Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu today reiterated his government’s warnings that the Kurdish YPG must not be allowed to participate in the offensive against the ISIS capital city of Raqqa, warning that any Kurdish involvement would endanger Syria’s future.
Turkish officials have made such statements repeatedly over the past few weeks, suggesting that the offensive should include them and the United States, but not the Kurds. The vast majority of US troops in Syria presen6tly are embedded with the YPG, and the few that have attempted to embed with Turkey have faced threats from Islamist rebel factions that are allied with Turkey.
Cavusoglu also criticized the US for its ongoing cooperation with the YPG, who Turkey considers a terrorist organization, adding that the US appears unable to control the group, citing the difficulty in getting them out of Manbij.
The YPG captured Manbij, heavily backed by US airstrikes, after a multi-month offensive. Turkey demanded the YPG cede the city immediately thereafter, and while other Turkish officials confirmed the YPG is withdrawing now, Cavusoglu warned that some have remained behind.
Turkey has insisted Kurds west of the Euphrates River are a “red line” for them, and have similarly said they won’t allow the Kurds to use the battle for Raqqa to gain additional territory. Since invading northern Syria, Turkey has also indicated an interest in expelling “terrorists” from the entire border, which means Kurdish territory east of the Euphrates faces targeting as well.