Turkish forces will continue to attack sources of income of Kurdish-led autonomous regions in Syria, Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan told reporters in Ankara on Wednesday.
Referring to Syrian Kurdish organisations that Turkey claims are extensions of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), Fidan said, “The only excuse of those who support them [the Syrian Kurdish organisations] is the fight against Da’esh [Islamic State, ISIS]”.
He went on to claim that there is no real fight against ISIS in northern Syria, ignoring the operations of the US-led Global Coalition. “There are only Da’esh prisoners. The PKK is guarding them,” Fidan said.
Fidan’s statement came in response to international criticism that Turkey’s strikes in the region are not only harming Syrian Kurdish civilians, but also hampering the ongoing fight against ISIS.
“We say to the Americans: We have no problem with you on Syrian territory. But we will not refrain from targeting the organisation that is hiding there. This is the instruction our president has given to our armed forces, security organisations and intelligence services,” Fidan said.
The White House recently explicitly cited Turkey’s military actions in northeast Syria as a major threat to US national security and foreign policy, when it announced the extension of the national emergency regarding Syria for another year. Originally declared on 14 October 2019, the emergency is intended to address the “unusual and extraordinary threat” posed by the ongoing situation in Syria.
Turkish forces have recently intensified their attacks against the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in northeastern Syria, targeting civilian infrastructure. The escalation came after Fidan issued a statement saying that all PKK and YPG (People’s Protection Forces – attached to the SDF) structures and facilities in both countries were “legitimate targets”.