Ankara – Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lamented on Sunday the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces patrols that were deployed along the Syrian-Turkish border, saying he will protest the development to President Donald Trump during his upcoming trip to the United States.
Tensions rose Saturday along the Turkish-Syrian border as both Turkey and the US moved armored vehicles to the region and Turkey’s leader once again demanded that Washington stop supporting the Syrian Kurdish militants there.
The patrols followed a Turkish airstrike against bases of Syrian Kurdish militia, Washington’s main ally in combating ISIS militants in Syria.
Kurdish officials said the US patrols are monitoring the Turkish-Syrian border to prevent an increase in tensions with Turkey, a NATO member and US ally.
More US troops were seen Saturday in armored vehicles in Syria in Kurdish areas. Kurdish officials describe US troop movement as “buffer” between them and Turkey.
But Turkey views Syria’s Kurdish People’s Protection Units, known as YPG, as a terrorist organization and an extension of the Kurdish militants who have been waging a three-decade-long insurgency against Turkey.
“The YPG, and you know who’s supporting them, is attacking us with mortars. But we will make those places their grave, there is no stopping,” Erdogan said ahead of a trip to India.
Tensions in the border area rose this week when Turkey conducted airstrikes against bases for YPG group in Syria and Iraq on Tuesday. The Turkish military said it killed at least 90 militants and wounded scores. The Kurdish group in Syria said 20 of its fighters and media activists were killed in the strike, which was followed by cross-border clashes.
Erdogan hinted his country is also ready to repeat its attacks in Sinjar, Iraq, to prevent it from turning into a base for the Kurdish militia.
“They will know that the Turkish armed forces may go wherever terrorism exists. Instead of us living in fear, they will live in constant fear,” he vowed.
He warned that terrorism will continue as long as joint coordination against terror is not established.
Furthermore, Erdogan stated that contacts over Syria are still ongoing with the US, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Iran and Qatar, adding that Ankara’s stance on regime leader Bashar Assad has not changed and it still considers that he is practicing state terrorism.
Erdogan is due in Washington on May 16 for his first meeting with Trump.
Claiming that his country is leading the most effective campaign against ISIS, Erdogan said: “Let us, hug America, all these coalition powers and Turkey, let us join hands and turn Raqqa to ISIS’ grave.”
The YPG forms the backbone of the US-backed Syria Democratic Forces.