By Safvan Allahverdi
WASHINGTON (AA) - The U.S. is making a mistake by aiding the PYD/PKK, an organization in Syria “under the direct control” of the PKK, a terrorist group that has taken 40,000 lives in Turkey, Ankara's ambassador to Washington has said.
Since taking control of northwestern Syria, across the Turkish border, the terrorist PYD/PKK “started conducting attacks against Turkish territory, Turkish civilians. They targeted Turkish civilians. The last year alone, they have conducted 700 attacks,” Serdar Kilic told the U.S.’ PBS Newshour late Thursday.
He added that the world will face similar threats unless it takes appropriate measures, tactics, and strategies in the fight against terrorism.
Using the terrorist PYD/PKK and YPG/PKK to fight Daesh, as the U.S. has done, is bad strategy, said Kilic.
"You cannot fight successfully with a terrorist organization by making use of another terrorist organization. This is the mistake the American administration is doing in Syria," Kilic stated.
The ambassador said that the U.S. had praised the PYD/PKK and YPG/PKK for “liberating” Raqqa, Syria, but in fact, what happened was only the swapping out of one terrorist group for another.
"Now Daesh is out of Raqqa but the YPG/PYD is in," he explained.
- ‘Military operation a must’
Kilic said the Turkish people have suffered greatly over the years from PKK terrorists coming across the border from northern Iraq to carry out attacks, and they do not want to see the same with the terrorist PYD/PKK controlling northern Syria.
This makes the current counter-terrorist Operation Olive Branch, carried out by Turkish forces along with the Free Syrian Army, a necessity, he said.
"This was an absolute requirement for us to take action," he added, explaining that the Afrin operation is protecting Turkey's borders and national security.
Turkey launched Operation Olive Branch on Jan. 20 to clear PYD/PKK and Daesh terrorists from Afrin.
Amid the operation, the PYD/PKK has targeted civilians in cross-border attacks on Turkish neighborhoods, martyring at least five people and injuring over 100 through mortar shells, artillery, and missiles, according to Prime Minister Binali Yildirim.
In addition to protecting border security, the Turkish General Staff says Operation Olive Branch is meant to protect Syrians from terrorist oppression and cruelty.
Asked about the “connection” between the PYD/PKK and the terrorist PKK, Kilic said: “Not connected. They are under direct control of the PKK. Their commanders are coming from Qandil Mountains, the bases of the PKK in northern Iraq.
“And even during the Senate hearing in April 2016, you will recall that Senator [Lindsey] Graham asked a question, a direct question, to then-Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter whether they knew there was a direct linkage between [the PKK and] YPG/PYD. And he acknowledged that.”
- ‘US should take action’
When asked whether Turkey will continue its military operation even if it costs the lives of U.S. troops, Kilic said he is confident that will not happen.
"We are long-term allies. I am confident that we are not going to come to that point.
“But in order to ensure that, the U.S. should take some certain actions,” he said, adding that the PYD/PKK poses an “existential threat” to Turkey’s security and stability.
“So, they should put an end to their support. They should cease providing them weapons and ammunition,” urged Kilic.
"Even as of yesterday they launched an attack, firing rockets to Turkish towns, killing scores of civilians, and I am confident that those weapons were provided by the U.S. How can you make sure that those weapons that you gave to fight against Daesh are not going to be used against Turkish people?" he asked.
The U.S. has long provided arms and equipment to the PYD/PKK, which Ankara has documented is the Syrian offshoot of the PKK, a terrorist group that has waged a more than 30-year war against Turkey.
Since the mid-1980s, the PKK -- recognized as a terrorist group by the U.S., EU, and Turkey -- has waged a wide-ranging terror campaign against the Turkish state in which an estimated 40,000 people have been killed, including women and children.