Turkey says Kurdish armed teams in Syria ‘legitimate targets’

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Ibrahim Kalin, the presidential spokesperson, tells Al Jazeera that Ankara will goal the PKK, YPG and PYD Kurdish teams to guard its borders.

The spokesperson for the Turkish presidency has instructed Al Jazeera that Kurdish armed teams in Syria are “legitimate targets”, and accused them of exploiting ties with the United States to justify their presence alongside Turkey’s border with Syria.

In an interview with Al Jazeera, Ibrahim Kalin mentioned Ankara is after the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and its offshoots the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) and Democratic Union Party (PYD) teams to guard its borders.

Ankara has blamed the outlawed PKK, YPG and their affiliated teams for the November 13 Istanbul blast in addition to earlier assaults. The PKK has been waging a decades-long bloody armed rise up for autonomy in Turkey’s southeast. Ankara, together with its NATO allies – the US and European Union – have declared the PKK a “terrorist” organisation.

“For us, any and all PKK, PYD, YPG establishments, elements, posts, military points are legitimate targets for us,” Kalin mentioned in the course of the interview with the Talk to Al Jazeera programme, whether or not they’re in Syria or Turkey.

“They are legitimate targets because they are terrorist organisations,” he continued. “We go after them to protect our borders. We don’t target Russian or American soldiers or military posts in Syria or anywhere else.”

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Kalin went on to say that the PKK, PYD, and YPG “elements” have up to now used American and the Syrian regime flags to “protect themselves”.

“That itself shows the extent of the PYD and YPG using their alliance with the United States to legitimise their own presence in northern Syria,” he mentioned.

The presidential spokesperson mentioned that the latest “terrorist” assault on Istiklal Street in Istanbul prompted Turkey to reply. The perpetrator, a Syrian girl of Kurdish descent, was educated by Kurdish fighters there, the federal government mentioned.

“Our initial response was to coordinate and conduct a number of air operations,” Kalin mentioned. “And of course, depending on the threat level as assessed by our intelligence and our air defence ministry and the related agencies, we will go after these terrorists, whether from the air or from the ground.”

Turkey has ramped up its shelling and air raids on northern Syria in latest weeks and has been making ready a floor invasion towards the YPG, a majority-Kurdish power that dominates the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) based mostly in Syria. Ankara has reportedly focused a number of army websites belonging to SDF in Syria’s Raqqa.

Belghan Ozturk, a safety analyst, mentioned that the Istanbul bombing assault was “a red line for Turkey’s state stability and national security”.

“So the YPG carried out rocket attacks in retaliation of the Turkish air raids,” Ozturk mentioned from Denver, Colorado. “Turkey wants to make sure the YPG was in no capacity to undertake further attacks – within Turkey and cross border rocket attacks.”

The delay might be due to the resistance Turkey has confronted from a number of worldwide powers concerned in Syria, together with Iran, Russia and the United States.

On Friday, SDF, which controls territory in northern Syria, mentioned it might not take part in joint counterterrorism operations with the US and different allies within the wake of the Turkish assaults. The SDF says it has documented about 70 assaults for the reason that operation was introduced.

A spokesperson for the SDF mentioned that “all coordination and joint counterterrorism operations” with the US-led coalition battling remnants of ISIL (ISIS) in Syria in addition to “all the joint special operations we were carrying out regularly” had been halted.