By Hasan Ozkal
Russia and the U.S. have agreed to support the Kurdish PYD group -- which is affiliated with the terrorist PKK organization -- in Syria, Mohamed Wajih Juma, the health minister in Syria’s interim government, said Friday.
"Both sides [the U.S. and Russia] support the PYD," Juma told Anadolu Agency in exclusive statements. "They won’t succeed, however, because the Turkmen presence in Syria goes back more than 1,000 years."
"There can be no doubt; they will not end the Turkmen presence [in Syria]," he added.
The interim government was designated by opposition group the Syrian National Coalition and is based in Gaziantep, Turkey.
Juma went on to assert that substantial Turkmen populations existed not only in Aleppo but in every region of Syria.
Predominantly-Turkmen areas of Latakia’s Bayirbucak region have recently been targeted by Russian airstrikes. Thousands of Turkmen civilians, meanwhile, have been forced to flee their homes in Aleppo and Hama due to ongoing violence.
"These people have no place to go but Turkey. That’s why the area between Afrin and Jarabulus must be purged of the Daesh militant group," Juma said.
"Turkey’s proposed ‘buffer zone’ is a must," he added.
Iran, meanwhile, is also intervening in Syria, according to Juma.
"The PYD hopes to take advantage of this situation to establish control over the region," he said.
Thousands of Turkmen in Tal Abyad, he went on to say, face possible displacement due to plans to establish a Kurdish state in northern Syria.
"If Syrian Kurdish forces move west of the Euphrates River, we will see genocide and ethnic cleansing," he warned.
"The international community, including the UN, is just watching," Juma said. "Everybody is helping the PYD, even though the PYD is working in coordination with the Assad regime."
The minister went on: "Russia and the U.S. have both agreed to support the PYD. In recent days, the PYD -- under different names -- is trying to capture new areas in Afrin and eastern Syria."
"The U.S. is supporting certain forces in the east that we consider the PYD, which dominates the region," Juma added. "Meanwhile, in the western Afrin region, the PYD is getting Russian support."
"It [the PYD] is receiving political and military support from both countries -- from the U.S. in the east and from Russia in the west," he said.
"U.S. soldiers were recently reported near the Teshrin Dam south of Jarabulus," he added. "There must be some secret arrangement between Russia and the U.S., both of which appear to favor the PYD."
Regarding planned peace talks in Geneva, Juma pointed out that Russia had insisted on the PYD’s participation in the negotiations.
"In Syria, Turkmen account for the second largest demographic after Arabs, yet Syria’s roughly 3.5 million Turkmen are not represented at the talks," he said.
He went on to assert that Syria’s total Kurdish population stood at only 1.5 million.