By Kubra Chohan
ANKARA (AA) – Turkey’s foreign minister said on Saturday that Ankara wants to see Washington take firm action to get U.S. arms out of the hands of the terrorist PYD/PKK.
“We want to see more concrete steps rather than words. The U.S. must cut ties with the terrorist organization,” by stopping the supply of arms and also taking back arms previously given to the terror group, Mevlut Cavusoglu told reporters before a meeting in the Mediterranean province of Antalya.
Cavusoglu’s remarks followed U.S. National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster telling a Turkish presidential aide in a phone call on Friday night that no further weapons would be given to the PYD/YPG, which Cavusoglu called “a confirmation of [U.S. President Donald] Trump’s word” to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Following on a similar pledge from last November, earlier this week Trump reportedly told Erdogan in a phone call that the U.S. would stop supplying weapons to the terrorist group.
“The U.S. should demonstrate these [words] concretely because there is a crisis of confidence,” Cavusoglu said.
“They have to make them [PKK/PYD] drop their weapons completely. They should take back the weapons they gave. They [the terrorist group] should immediately retreat from Manbij” in northern Iraq.
Emphasizing that the U.S. is a country that combats terrorism and “admits” the YPG is no different from the PKK -- a terror group recognized by the EU, U.S., and Turkey -- Cavusoglu said Turkey is a country that keeps its word.
- Vexing support
The U.S. supports the PYD/PKK, considered by Ankara as the Syrian offshoot of the PKK terror group, which has waged a more than 30-year war against the Turkish state, resulting in some 40,000 deaths.
American support for the terror group has long vexed Ankara, as Washington has called the PYD/PKK-led umbrella group, the SDF, a "reliable partner" in its fight against Daesh and has continued to provide it with arms and equipment in the face of strong objections from Turkey.
Turkey on Jan. 20 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 Turkish borders and the region as well as to 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.
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.