By Dorian Jones
ISTANBUL (Voice of America) — Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has issued an ultimatum to the United States to choose between Turkey and Syrian Kurds. US forces have been working closely with the Syrian Kurdish group the PYD in the battle against Islamic State.
The ultimatum followed a visit by the head of the anti-IS coalition, Bret McGurk, a week earlier to the Syrian town of Kobani, where he met with members of the PYD and its militia, the YPG.
US forces have been supporting the YPG in its battle against Islamic State, but Ankara accuses the Syrian Kurdish group of being a terrorist organization connected to the Kurdish rebel group, the PKK, which Turkish forces are fighting in southeastern Turkey.
US Ambassador to NATO Douglas Lute is playing down the Turkish president’s ultimatum, while underlining the importance of the Syrian Kurdish groups.
“These are not new concerns with regard to US contact and US support for the Syrian Kurdish groups,” he said. “And of course the visit that you are referring took place into the town of Kobani, which of course was largely freed from ISIL control because of the effective fighting of those Syrian Kurdish groups.”