Turkey says US support for the Syrian Kurdish YPG is a "big mistake"

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ANKARA (Reuters) – US support for Syrian Kurdish YPG militias is a "big mistake," Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Saturday, adding that the problem has tightened ties between NATO allies .

PHOTO FILE: Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu speaks at a press conference in Istanbul, Turkey, on October 30, 2018. REUTERS / Murad Sezer

Turkey has been enraged with Washington's support for the YPG, which sees an extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) undertaking a decade-long insurgency on Turkish soil.

The ties between the United States and Turkey have been tense on issues such as US policy in Syria, the case of an American pastor in Turkey, and Turkey's demands for the extradition of the American religious Fethullah Gulen, which Ankara blames for a failed coup in 2016.

Cavusoglu, who is in the United States on an official visit, said the tensions between Ankara and Washington stem from US support for the YPG and from the Gulen question, against which he said the FBI had initiated a & # 39; investigation.

"While knowing and recognizing that (the YPG) is the same organization (as the PKK), seeing this cooperation, if necessary, is really a big mistake," Cavusoglu said, adding that he would discuss bilateral relations with his US counterpart Mike Pompeo Tuesday.

On Sunday, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said he told the US chief of staff, Joseph Dunford, that Turkey expects the United States to stop supporting YPG as soon as possible, according to the US government. state agency Anadolu.

"We reiterated our warnings and stated that we expected our US counterparts to take the necessary steps and end their relationship with YPG, which is no different from the PKK, as soon as possible," Akar said.

"We reminded them that the United States, our ally and strategic partner here (Syria) and US soldiers working with such an organization (YPG) can not be accepted in any way," he said.

Tensions between NATO allies have eased slightly in the last month after the release of Pastor Andrew Brunson and the commencement of joint patrols in the Syrian Manbij as part of a road map agreed by the two countries in June.

The two countries last month also lifted the mutual sanctions against senior officials imposed in response to the detention and arrest of Brunson.

At the start of this month, Washington promised millions of dollars to help capture three major PKK militants in a move that Turkey welcomed, but said it was late and insufficient.

After the attempt to putsch, Turkey has detained 77,000 people while they are tried, suspending or dismissing about 150,000 civil servants and employees on alleged links with Gulen.

"On both issues, we are not only one hundred percent, but one thousandth percent," Cavusoglu said.

Reporting by Tuvan Gumrukcu; Editing by Dale Hudson

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