Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday he had evidence the U.S.-led coalition supports terrorists in Syria, including ISIL and the Kurdish militant groups YPG and PYD.
A spokesman for the U.S. State Department called the accusation “ludicrous,” though he acknowledged the situation on the ground in northern Syria is rather complex.
The quarrel came a day after Ankara called on the coalition to help Turkish-backed forces defeat ISIL in al-Bab, a northern Syrian town that Kurdish militias have also been trying to seize. Turkey fears that such a win just 25 km south of its border would embolden Kurdish separatism at home.
“We’re mindful of course of some of the tensions that exist obviously between these Turkish supported forces and the YPG and other forces that we’ve been supporting in that area,” said US State Department spokesman Mark Toner. “That’s the reason why we’re working closely, having these discussions and trying to coordinate with them.”
Turkish-backed rebels have besieged al-Bab for weeks under the “Euphrates Shield” operation Turkey launched in August to sweep both ISIL and Kurdish fighters from its Syrian border.