Defense minister adds Turkey will track US pledge to retrieve arms from terrorist PKK/PYD in Syria after Raqqah operation

Turkey on Friday guardedly praised a U.S. pledge to retrieve weapons supplied to a Syrian terrorist group once their joint operation against Daesh is over.

“We consider this a positive development. We have said multiple times from the beginning of the U.S. relationship with the PYD/YPG that using one terror group to fight another is unacceptable in terms of principles and the crisis it could create,” said Defense Minister Fikri Isik about a letter sent by U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis.

“If the U.S. says they will take back weapons delivered to the PKK/PYD terrorist group after the Raqqah, Syria operation, they should keep their promise. We will be tracking the process,” Isik told news channel NTV.

Turkey considers the PYD/YPG Syrian offshoots of the terrorist PKK, while the U.S. has called them a “reliable ally” in the fight against Daesh in Syria.

More than 1,200 people, including security force personnel and civilians, have lost their lives since the PKK -- listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S., and the EU -- resumed its decades-long armed campaign in July 2015.

“The U.S. attitude was different at first, but over time they began to understand Turkey’s concerns. It is important for us that they are making a written commitment. We will see the results on the ground”.

- Turkish base in Qatar

Isık said he will meet his counterpart James Mattis next week to discuss the issue at a NATO meeting in Brussels.

“We will also discuss if we can set up a joint mechanism regarding the collecting of arms,” he said.

Isık added: “Turkey will not allow the PKK/PYD to be the spoiled child in the area. The slightest threat to Turkey will be retaliated and punished according to rules of engagement, no doubt. We are preparing fully for this.”

Asked about media reports that the group of Gulf nations arrayed against Qatar have demanded the closure of Turkey’s base there, Isik said, “We have not received an official request. If this is true, it would mean interference in bilateral relations.”

“The Turkish base in Qatar is an activity for training Qatari soldiers and for the sake of the area’s security. It should not bother any country. On the contrary, it would be an important step to contribute to the security and stability of all Gulf countries.

“Turkey will not be re-evaluating the base agreement with Qatar,” Isık said.

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