September 13, 2018 / 10:42 PM / a month ago

Kurdish YPG militia may aid Syrian government in Idlib operation - Turkish foreign minister

ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Turkey’s foreign minister said in a letter to New York Times editors published on Thursday that the Kurdish YPG militia may aid the Syrian government in an attack against Idlib, the last major rebel-held area in Syria.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu speaks during a news conference in Ankara, Turkey September 5, 2018. REUTERS/Umit Bektas

Both the United States and Turkey, which are opposed to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government, have warned that an attack on Idlib by the Syrian government, backed by Russia and Iran, could further destabilise the region and harm civilians. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has vowed to recover “every inch” of Syria.

However, Turkey and the United States have differing views about the YPG.

The militia has been a strong ally of the United States in the fight against Islamic State. Turkey, on the other hand, considers the YPG a terrorist organisation and an extension of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has led an insurgency against the Turkish state since the 1980s.

Ankara has repeatedly expressed its anger over the U.S. support for the YPG.

In the letter to Times editors, which was in response to an op-ed the newspaper published last week, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu warned that Washington should “asses who its real allies in the region are.”

“New reports suggest that the Y.P.G., a terrorist group operating from Syria that has received arms and aid paid for by American taxpayers, has forged an alliance with Mr. Assad and is sending troops as part of a deal brokered in July to help him recapture Idlib from the rebels,” he wrote.

Turkey has said it is working with Russia and Iran to stabilise the Idlib region, indicating continued efforts to avoid a Syrian government offensive.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan met with the leaders of Iran and Russia last week in Tehran, but failed to win a ceasefire pledge.

Reporting by Ali Kucukgocmen; Editing by Toni Reinhold

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