Turkey criticizes US envoy over 'terror' remarks

Turkish presidential spokesman takes exception to remarks by Brett McGurk that links Ankara to terror groups in Syria.

Presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin on Monday criticized statements by the U.S. anti-Daesh coalition envoy that linked Turkey to terror groups operating in northwestern Syria, according to Anadolu Agency.

Speaking Friday at a panel on U.S. President Donald Trump's fight against terrorism at the Middle East Institute in Washington, Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter Daesh Brett McGurk claimed the city of Idlib had turned into a "safe zone for al-Qaeda terrorists on the Turkish border".

Kalin took exception to those remarks. "The terroristic structure in Idlib cannot be associated with Turkey," he said, speaking to Turkey’s TV Net. "Why? Because we do not control Idlib. There are Americans there, YPG there, [around Idlib]. There are Russians and regime forces," said Kalin.

He also said that several years ago, because of the war in Syria, a refugee corridor was established and Turkish institutions like the Turkish Red Crescent, non-profits and the Prime Ministry's Disaster Relief Agency were involved in efforts to get humanitarian aid to Idlib.

"After Aleppo's evacuation, a population boom occurred in Idlib," Kalin said.

On Sunday, in a written statement, Turkey's Foreign Ministry spokesman Huseyin Muftuoglu also criticized McGurk for his "provocative" statements.

"Our reaction to the statements of Brett McGurk … in which he associated Turkey with the presence of terrorist organizations in Idlib, was brought to Mr. McGurk’s attention at a high-level demarche, and his statements, which could be characterized as provocative, were protested," Muftuoglu said.

The U.S. has supported the PKK/PYD -- considered by Turkey as the Syrian offshoot of the PKK terror organization -- along with several other Arab militia groups under the umbrella of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), long vexing Ankara.

The U.S. views the SDF as a "reliable partner" in its fight against Daesh and continues to provide it with arms and equipment against strong objections by Turkey.

The PKK has waged a terror campaign against Turkey for more than 30 years that has led to the deaths of more than 40,000 people. It is a designated terror group in Turkey, the U.S. and the EU.


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