Erdogan slams US 'support for Kurdish YPG fighters'

Erdogan slams US 'support for Kurdish YPG fighters'
From Al Jazeera - February 14, 2018

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoganhas slammed the US' support for Kurdish YPGfighters in northern Syria, warning that Washington's move to fund the group will impact Ankara's future decisions towards its NATO ally.

"The US decision to give financial support to the YPG ... will surely affect the decisions Turkey will take," Erdogan said on Tuesday.

"It will be better for them not to stand with the terrorists they support today. I am calling on the people of the United States - this money is coming out of the budget of the US, it is coming out of people's pockets," Erdogan said.

His comments were a response to the Pentagon's new defence budget that allocates $550m to military activities in Syria.

The US defence department requested $300m for Syrian "train and equip activities" and $250m for "border security requirements related to the counter ISIS mission," according toa copy of the budget.

Turkey last month started a military incursion, dubbed "Operation Olive Branch", into the Kurdish-held Afrin region in northwestern Syria to sweep Kurdish YPG fightersfrom its border there.

Top Turkish officials have threatened to extend the incursion to the Syrian town of Manbij, which is under the control of YPG-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), and warned US troops stationed there not to get in the way.

The US has reiterated that it has no plans to withdraw its forces from Manbij.

Paul Funk, the commander of US forces in Syria and Iraq, made a recent visit to Manbij and said that the US and its partners in Syria would hit back if attacked.

"You hit us, we will respond aggressively. We will defend ourselves," Funk said.

Erdogan took aim at that, saying: "It is obvious that those, who say they will 'give a sharp response' if they were hit, have not been hit by the Ottoman slap."

The "Ottoman slap" was a potentially fatal martial arts technique used by an elite infantry of the Ottoman Empire in the 17th century.

It was used when a soldier lost or dropped his weapon in battle and was supposedly devastating enough to cause a concussion or even break the enemy's neck.



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