Erdogan advisor corrects remarks threatening to hit US troops

An advisor to Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan stepped backed Thursday on his earlier words that appeared to threaten American forces deployed along Kurdish fighters fighting the Islamic State (IS) in Syria.

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan24) - An advisor to Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan stepped backed Thursday on his earlier words that appeared to threaten American forces deployed along Kurdish fighters fighting the Islamic State (IS) in Syria.

"Turkey has never and will never hit its allies anywhere and that includes the US in Syria," said Erdogan's chief advisor on Kurdish affairs Ilnur Cevik who took to Twitter after his remarks to a radio station circulated on the Turkish and international media.

On Wednesday, Cevik told the Istanbul-based CRI FM that Turkish army could "accidentally" hit US forces embedded with the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) who Turkey calls "terrorists."

On Twitter, Cevik went on correcting himself, saying "Turks do not threaten or harm allies and friends. That includes Americans."

But in another tweet, Cevik reiterated his country's avowed resolution in targeting the primary US ally in Syria, the YPG that Turkey perceives to be the same with the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).

"Turkey has and will hit all terrorists in Syria so no one should allow our US allies to become a shield for them," he tweeted, voicing Ankara's growing exasperation with American protection of the Syrian Kurds.

 

US troops and tanks with Kurdish fighters in nortern Syria, April 2017. (Photo: Reuters)
US troops and tanks with Kurdish fighters in nortern Syria, April 2017. (Photo: Reuters)

"Friends do not cooperate with terrorists who kill their friends or else you alienate the Turkish people," he went on.

According to an audio record on the CRI FM website, Cevik can be heard saying "yes" to repeated questions by his host if he actually meant that "a few rockets" may also hit Americans.

The response from Washington came quickly.

“We find these comments to be irresponsible and unacceptable,” the Defense Department spokesman Eric Pahon told Kurdistan24.

Cevik’s comment followed joint patrols by the US troops and YPG fighters along Syria-Turkey border which began after April 25 Turkish bombardment of Kurdish positions in Syria and Iraq that killed at least 25.

President Erdogan himself expressed his discontent with US actions in Syria, saying over the weekend that he was "saddened to see YPG rags flying in the same convoy with the US flags."

Erdogan said he would present pictures showing US troops with "PKK terrorists" to President Donald Trump in their upcoming May 16 meeting at the White House, in an attempt to dissuade Americans from working with the YPG.

 

Editing by Ava Homa