Turkey on Jan. 10 summoned the charge d’affairs of the United States Embassy in Ankara, Philip Kosnett, over reports that U.S. troops started training the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) in northern Syria, a development that can strain already fragile relations between the two allies.
Turkey’s move came a day after news broke that U.S. troops began to provide military training to some 400 YPG militants in a move to create a new force to guard the border between Turkey and Syria, Turkish diplomatic sources told the Hürriyet Daily News.
Turkey has long been condemning the U.S. for allying with the YPG, a group Ankara considers a terror organization because of its links with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), in the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
Ankara believes Washington is continuing to provide heavy weapons to the YPG although the fight against ISIL has neared an end. It has been calling on Washington to end the deployment and start taking back the weapons given to the group.
In Washington, a State Department spokesman confirmed the meeting occurred but said “beyond that we aren’t going to read out any details of the conversation.”
In a telephone conversation with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan late November, U.S. President Donald Trump had assured the Turkish government that he will instruct Pentagon to stop delivering weapons to the group.
There are, however, reports that the partnership between the U.S. and the YPG is still continuing and that the former is assisting the latter in forming a new force to control the Turkish-Syrian border.