World US affirms support for Turkey in fight with PKK

US affirms support for Turkey in fight with PKK
US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis at a NATO defense ministers meeting in Brussels, Belgium, Feb. 15, 2017. (Photo: Reuters/Francois Lenoir)

WASHINGTON DC, United States (Kurdistan24) – A US official on Thursday told Reuters the United States is looking to boost intelligence cooperation with Turkey to support its fight against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

The official reported that US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim on Thursday that Washington was committed to protecting its NATO ally, including against threats such as the terrorist-designated PKK.

The effort might be an attempt to soothe Turkey’s disapproval of the US arming Kurdish forces in Syria in the fight against the Islamic State (IS).

On Monday, President Donald Trump approved a Pentagon plan to provide weapons and ammunitions to the People’s Protection Units (YPG) to help them in their fight to retake the city of Raqqa, the extremist group’s de facto capital.

However, Turkey views the YPG as an extension of the outlawed PKK, which has fought an insurgency in southeast Turkey since 1984.

Nevertheless, the US announced it would increase the capabilities of what is known as an “intelligence fusion center” in Ankara to help Turkish officials better identify and track PKK fighters.

According to the US official, the plan could end up doubling the capacity of the fusion center, adding more US-provided intelligence assets such as drones and other capabilities.

The expanded intelligence sharing would deliver on an important national security priority for Turkey.

The US does not publicly recognize the relationship among the various Kurdish groups.

The United States regards the YPG as an effective and valuable partner in the fight against IS militants in northern Syria.

On Wednesday, Mattis expressed confidence the United States would be able to resolve tensions with Turkey over the decision to arm the Kurds, saying: “We’ll work out any of the concerns.”

The White House is scheduled to host Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on May 16.

The visit would allow the two leaders to strengthen their bilateral relationship further and deepen their cooperation to confront terrorism in all its forms according to the White House.

 

Editing by Karzan Sulaivany