Turkey said on Wednesday that it will continue with its offensive in northern Syria until all threats are removed, rejecting U.S. claims that it had agreed a truce with Kurdish-led forces.
Turkey will press on with its offensive until all threats are removed and the nation’s national security is guaranteed, Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said.
Turkey launched an incursion into Syria a week ago, saying it aimed to drive away ISIS and prevent Kurdish militias seizing more territory near the Turkish border. Clashes with Kurdish-aligned militias that have U.S. backing have raised tensions with NATO ally Washington.
EU Affairs Minister Omer Celik told state-run Anadolu news agency that Turkey did “not accept” U.S. claims that it had agreed a truce with the Kurdish-led forces.
“We do not accept in any circumstances … a ‘compromise or a ceasefire reached between Turkey and Kurdish elements,’” he said.
“The Turkish republic is a sovereign, legitimate state.”
Celik said Turkey could not be put on an equal footing with a “terrorist organization,” referring to the U.S.-backed Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG).
A U.S. defense official told Agence France Presse in Washington on Tuesday that the Turkish and Kurdish-led forces had reached a “loose agreement” to stop fighting each other.
After a weekend of Turkish clashes with YPG-allied forces, Washington expressed alarm and urged both sides to stop fighting each other and concentrate on combatting ISIS.
Turkey sees the YPG as an offshoot of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) which has waged a bloody war against the Turkish state since 1984.
Meanwhile, an opposition monitoring group and a news agency linked with ISIS said a suicide attacker has targeted Turkish-backed rebels in northern Syria.
ISIS’ Aamaq news agency said the “martyrdom” attack occurred in the village of Kuliyah, west of the Syrian border town of Jarablus.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the attack was carried out by a Moroccan ISIS member. It said casualties were inflicted but did not give figures.
The suicide attack is the first by ISIS to target Turkish-backed rebels since they entered Syria last week.