On Wednesday, a top aide to Turkish President Recep Tarrip Erdogan suggested that if U.S. commandos in Syria continued to work alongside the Kurds that Turkish rockets could hit American troops “by accident.”
According to Foreign Policy, Ilnur Cevik, a senior political advisor to Turkish President Erdogan, spoke during a radio interview and said that if the two groups continued to work together, Turkey “won’t be considering the fact that there are armored American vehicles…all of a sudden, by accident, a few rockets can hit them.”
Turkey, a NATO ally of the United States, has had a long-standing conflict with the Kurdish forces in the region. While both sides are committed to the fight against the Islamic State, Turkey sees the Kurds as an ethnic minority and has worked to push them out of their nation as the Kurds push for sovereignty.
Just last week, Turkish airstrikes killed over a dozen U.S.-backed Kurdish and Syrian forces in Iraq and Syria. The strikes hit Iraq’s Mount Sinjar and Syria’s Mount Karacok and were reportedly meant to break up rebel supply lines that were en route to infiltrate Turkey. Erdogan has referred to Sinjar as a “terrorism” center.
The official spokesman for the Kurdish forces, also known as the YPG, spoke to American Military News in an exclusive interview in March.
“We have a special relationship with the American soldiers here,” he told American Military News. “They know us well and our strength in the war on ISIS. What we want is immediate increased American support to our units and to develop the relations between us because we are the only force than can achieve victory with the fewest casualties and civilian victims.”
Xelil also added that he hoped America would not reconsider its support for the Kurds based on influence from Turkey, America’s NATO ally.
“We adamantly hope that America does not lose sight in supporting our cause due to other countries lobbying against us, specifically Turkey, who bomb Kurdish assets at every opportunity, all the while trying to damage Kurdish relations with the U.S.”