The Autonomous Administration of North-East Syria (AANES) shared a public statement condemning Swedish Foreign Minister Tobias Billström’s allegations of links between Kurdish-led groups in Syria and outlawed guerrilla forces, reported Hawar News Agency.
Tobias Billström told Swedish Radio last week that Kurdish-led groups in northern Syria were “too closely connected” to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which Turkey and NATO refer to as a terrorist entity.
This connection, Billström said, was harming Sweden’s primary foreign policy objective of joining NATO, Reuters reported.
The Kurdish-led People’s Protection Units (YPG) and Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) formed the backbone of the US-led international coalition to fight the Islamic State, suffering thousands of casualties in the process.
Turkey views the YPG and the SDF as extensions of the PKK, and has launched a series of military operations against their positions in northern Syria. Both groups, and the AANES that governs areas controlled by the Kurdish-led forces, deny the connection.
“Thanks to our sacrifices, international states have supported our people which shows that our struggle is a struggle for stability and peace for the world and humanity,” said the AANES.
“It is an saddening to hear a statement of this nature from the Swedish Foreign Minister, made to please the Turkish state and gain acceptance into NATO,” the AANES statement said.
“We understand Sweden’s interests, but it is wrong to protect its interests at the expense of our people who are still fighting against global terrorism,” it said.
The statement added that ending support to the self-governed region would amount to collaborating with the Turkish state’s attacks against the people living there.
Billström’s comments came a day after a meeting between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg in Turkey, during which the pair discussed Sweden’s NATO bid among other issues.
On 8 November, Ulf Kristerrson, the newly elected Prime Minister of Sweden, will begin a visit to Turkey, where he is poised to continue discussions on the accession bid with Erdoğan.