By Handan Kazanci and Nilay Kar Onum
ISTANBUL (AA) - Strained by American support for a terrorist group in Syria, Turkish relations with the U.S. are close to breaking, warned Turkey’s foreign minister on Monday.
“Ties with the U.S. are at very critical point. We will either fix these relations or they will break completely,” Mevlut Cavusoglu told reporters in Istanbul on the sidelines of a Turkish-African meeting in Istanbul.
“We want concrete steps [from U.S.]. The missing trust needs to be restored. The reason for that missing trust is the U.S.," he said.
Criticizing U.S. ties with the YPG/PKK terror group in Syria -- the armed wing of the terrorist PYD/PKK -- he said: “The U.S. is not touching Daesh members in Syria as an excuse to continue working with YPG/PKK terrorist group.”
The U.S. has long supported the PYD/PKK as a “reliable ally” in its fight against Daesh, over the strong objections of Ankara, which has documented that it is the Syrian branch of the terrorist PKK.
The PKK is listed as a terrorist group by the U.S., EU, and Turkey.
On Jan. 20, Turkey launched Operation Olive Branch to remove PYD/PKK and Daesh terrorists from Afrin.
According to the Turkish General Staff, the operation aims to establish security and stability along Turkey’s borders and the region as well as protect Syrians from terrorist oppression and cruelty.
The operation is being carried out under the framework of Turkey’s rights based on international law, UN Security Council resolutions, its self-defense rights under the UN charter, and respect for Syria's territorial integrity, it said.
The military also said the "utmost care" is being used to avoid harming civilians.
Afrin has been a major hideout for the PYD/PKK since July 2012, when the Assad regime in Syria left the city to the terror group without a fight.