By Diyar Guldogan
ANKARA (AA) - Washington should understand Ankara's concerns over cooperation between the U.S. and the YPG/PKK terrorist organization in Syria, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Tuesday.
In remarks made to TGRT television channel, Cavusoglu said: "The U.S should understand our concerns and address [them].”
He said one of the problems is the U.S.’ cooperation with the YPG/PKK, a group that Turkey considers as a threat.
"If we are allies, the U.S. should do this. If the U.S. does not do this, if it does not remove this threat, then we have to wipe this threat out," he said.
Cavusoglu said Turkey could not trust the U.S., especially on Syria, since Washington had not kept its promises.
"It is our right to expect from the U.S. to keep its promises first. It needs to remove the YPG from Manbij. Similarly, it has to cut its ties with the YPG," he said.
He reiterated that terrorists must retreat to the east side of Euphrates River as it was promised before.
He again called on the U.S. to not arm the terrorist organization.
Turkey has long objected to U.S. support for the terrorist PYD/PKK -- the Syrian branch of the terrorist PKK, which has taken thousands of lives in Turkey -- with the U.S. claiming the group is a “reliable ally” in its fight against Daesh.
- Civilians unharmed in Afrin operation
Cavusoglu said Turkey's Operation Olive Branch in northwestern Syria was continuing "as planned".
He added nearly 1,000 terrorists were neutralized since the launch of the operation on Jan. 20.
"Without clearing the threat entirely, we cannot feel safe ourselves…" he said.
Cavusoglu said no civilians were being killed during the ongoing operation, rejecting claims made on some media outlets about "loss of civilians' lives"; he termed such reports as "propaganda" of the PYD/PKK and YPG/PKK.
"We are sensitive about this issue. Until today, no civilians have died," he said.
He added Turkey is "more sensitive" about lives of civilians as compared to any other country.
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 Turkish borders and the region as well as to protect the Syrian people from the oppression and cruelty of terrorists.
The operation is being carried out under the framework of Turkey’s rights based on international law, UN Security Council’s decisions, self-defense rights under the UN charter and respect to Syria's territorial integrity, it said.
The military also said the "utmost importance" was being given to not harm any civilian.
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 putting up a fight.
- No contact with Assad regime
Cavusoglu also said Turkey does not have any diplomatic contact with Syria's Bashar al-Assad regime.
"We do not have any diplomatic contact with the regime. On the other hand, we support Syria's territorial integrity more than anyone else," he said.
He said Turkey is not a "threat" to the regime.
He called on the regime to end violations in Ghouta and Idlib "as soon as possible".
"On the other hand, I do not think that we [both Turkey and regime] differ on the YPG issue. The regime thinks the same thing about YPG terrorist organization that wants to divide Syria," he added.
- No problem with Russia
Cavusoglu said there is no problem with Russia, adding contacts with Moscow continue.
He added Astana peace talks aimed at ending the Syria conflict will also continue.
He said Russia proposed to hold the next Astana talks at the ministerial level.
"Astana meeting will be at the beginning of the second week of March," he added.
The talks, which will focus on strengthening a cease-fire that came into effect on Dec. 30 in 2016, are brokered by Turkey, which backs the opposition, and Russia and Iran, who support the Assad regime.
Syria has been locked in a devastating civil war since March 2011 when the al-Assad regime cracked down on pro-democracy protests with unexpected ferocity.
While UN officials say hundreds of thousands of people have been killed in the conflict, Syrian regime officials say the death toll is closer to 10,000.