By Cigdem Alyanak
The recent U.S. decision to supply weapons to "PYD and YPG elements" -- considered by Ankara as terrorist group PKK's Syrian offshoot, and its armed wing -- will neither benefit the U.S. nor the region, Turkish defense minister said Wednesday.
"Supplying heavy arms to the PYD/YPG elements, a terror group, is a crisis in and of itself. This will benefit neither the region nor the U.S.," Fikri Isik said in an interview aired on private NTV network.
"On the contrary, this will not only have negative effects on Turkey, or the region, but the whole world, and the U.S. in particular," he added.
The minister reiterated Turkey's stance of not joining any military operation in the region involving terrorist groups.
"Nobody should expect Turkey to support an operation where these terrorist group elements are taking part," Isik said, adding it would "actually be much easier" to conduct an operation without "PYD and YPG".
"The problem would be solved if you just pulled out the PYD, YPG elements, and replaced them with the Free Syrian Army. But, unfortunately, the military sources there have been reluctant in this regard since the beginning, and I think they were the determining factor behind the decision of the U.S. government," he said.
The minister added that although Turkey had "no power to change the game by itself," it had the power to protect its national interests.
"Turkey will continue to protect its national interests in any case," he said.
On Tuesday, the Pentagon announced that U.S. President Donald Trump had approved the arming of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) ahead of an attempt to drive Daesh from Raqqah, the last Syrian city held by the terror group.
The SDF is spearheaded by the PKK/PYD and its armed wing, the PKK/YPG. Turkey views both as the Syrian affiliates of the terrorist PKK, which has fought a 33-year war against Turkey and is also listed as a terror organization by the U.S. and EU.
However, the U.S. has used the PKK/PYD as its ally in Syria in combatting Daesh. Turkey has repeatedly called on the U.S. to end its ties to the PKK/PYD and offered to help take Raqqah.
The PKK resumed its armed campaign against Turkey in July 2015. Since then, it has been responsible for the deaths of some 1,200 Turkish security personnel and civilians, including a number of women and children.