ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan24) – The reason Turkish authorities halted the US-based Mercy Corps’ humanitarian aid operations was “its services” to the banned Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), reported pro-government Turkish media on Thursday.
Citing no sources, the Islamist Yenisafak newspaper claimed Mercy Corps, partly funded by grants from the US government, “was engaged in Syrian PKK’s human trafficking, organ trade, and arms smuggling activities.”
The Turkish government views the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) that rules Syrian Kurdistan (Rojava) as a “terrorist” group for ties with the PKK which fights against its troops.
Turkish authorities’ refusal to renew Mercy Corps’ registration came as a face-off between the US-backed Kurdish groups and the Turkish army proxies near the town of Manbij continued.
Mercy Corps, which announced closure in Turkey on Tuesday, said its operation in the country was one of the largest, “delivering urgently needed, life-saving assistance to 350,000 to 500,000 innocent civilians in Syria each month.”
Meanwhile, a Turkish-American friction over the participation of PYD’s armed wing People’s Protection Units (YPG) in an ongoing operation to liberate the de facto Islamic State (IS) capital of Raqqa deepened.
Yenisafak, close to circles near President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, further claimed Mercy Corps was providing the PYD in the Canton of Afrin, in northwestern Syria, with “logistical support.”
Western charities “see the move as part of a broader campaign to pressure Western governments and aid agencies, among other things, over their purported support” for the YPG, reported the Washington DC-based Al-Monitor website that tracks Middle Eastern affairs.
Mercy Corps was not the only humanitarian group the pro-Justice and Development Party (AKP) targeted.
It alleged the Irish aid charity GOAL, the International Rescue Committee (IRC), and the International Medical Corps (IMC) “were providing financial and military support to the PKK.”
Medical Relief, Mercy Corps, and IMC were also “sending truckloads of weapons” to the PYD, Yenisafak claimed.
The US Department of State earlier expressed concern to Turkey regarding Mercy Corps’ humanitarian assistance which it said was “critical to vulnerable populations” inside Syria.
Turkish authorities have so far given no official reason for ending Mercy Corps’ operations.
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany