US security chief tempers withdrawal claims, jeopardising Turkey’s plans to target Kurdish groups
'Turkey has asked Washington to hand over its bases in Syria as the Trump administration appeared to reverse plans to withdraw from the country’s north-east on Tuesday, jeopardising Ankara’s plans to launch a widespread military operation targeting Kurdish groups.
The fresh row between the two Nato allies broke out as the US national security adviser, John Bolton, visited Ankara to row back on a surprise announcement by Donald Trump in December that US forces would leave Syria imminently, abandoning Kurdish proxies who had led its ground war against the Islamic State terror group. Turkey views those same Kurdish groups as mortal foes.
Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, in a scathing speech to parliament delivered while Bolton was still in the Turkish capital, said the US envoy had “made a serious mistake” and that Turkey would never agree to a compromise that protected the Kurdish militia, known as the YPG, whose members helped a US-led coalition push Isis out of most of Syria’s east.
“Elements of the US administration are saying different things,” said Erdoğan. “The YPG and the PKK can never be representatives of the Kurdish people.”
Erdoğan, signalling the rift, refused to meet Bolton, leaving the US national security adviser to instead hold talks with his Turkish counterpart, Ibrahim Kalin, and other officials at Ankara’s presidency complex.'
Read more: Erdoğan chides Bolton and calls on US to hand over Syria bases