ADDS MORE REMARKS FROM PRES. ERDOGAN AND PM BINALI YILDIRIM
DIYARBAKIR, Turkey (AA) – President Recep Tayyip Erdogan condemned on Saturday what he called the United States’ “support” for Syrian Kurdish groups the PYD and YPG.
"I condemn U.S. support for the PYD and YPG. This is not the promise that was given to us," Erdogan said at a ceremony at Diyarbakir Airport in eastern Turkey.
He was speaking after Turkey expressed outrage at pictures showing members of U.S. Special Forces in Syria wearing YPG insignias and patches. The Pentagon Friday called the patches "unauthorized" and "inappropriate” and that “corrective action” had been taken.
Erdogan said: "I believe that politics must be done honestly. Thus, the friends who believe in us and the ones who stand with us in NATO should not and cannot send their own soldiers to Syria with YPG patches.
"Those who say: 'We will continue to support the YPG, it is not the PKK'... you are on the wrong side.”
The YPG is the armed wing of the PYD – the Syrian offshoot of the PKK, which is designated a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the EU.
While Turkey views the PYD and YPG as terrorist groups, Washington continues to support the YPG as an "effective partner" in the fight against Daesh.
Meeting with NGOs in Diyarbakir, Erdogan also decried the PKK's desecration of the local Kursunlu Mosque last December, saying, "Every bullet that went through Kursunlu also went through our heart."
"The artifacts damaged in Kursunlu Mosque are not just Diyarbakir's, but represent our common culture and history," he said.
Erdogan then expressed his condolences to families in Durumlu, where the terrorist PKK killed 16 people and injured 23 earlier this month.
Also attending the airport ceremony, Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said that Turkey has no “Kurdish problem,” only a terrorism problem.
“The PKK doesn’t care about Kurdish people’s problems. Your problems and Turkey’s problems are just the PKK terrorist organization. We are committed that that PKK should no longer pose a problem for us,” he said.
Yildirim then visited NGOs and called on the terrorists to surrender to the state's mercy.
"Diyarbakir does not want to be remembered as the 'terror city.' I call on young ones to surrender and forsake following a dark path," Yildirim said.
The PKK – listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and EU – resumed its 30-year armed campaign against the Turkish state in July 2015.
Since then, nearly 500 members of the security forces, including troops, police officers and village guards have been martyred and over 4,900 PKK terrorists killed in operations across Turkey and northern Iraq.