Turkey said on Friday that a huge banner of jailed Kurdish militant leader Abdullah Ocalan unfurled in central Raqqa by US-backed Kurdish forces would further harm already fraught relations between Ankara and Washington.
The banner of Ocalan was raised on Thursday at a ceremony to mark Raqqa’s capture from Daesh in a campaign spearheaded by Kurdish Syrian YPG fighters, with military support from the United States.
Turkey considers the YPG to be an extension of Ocalan’s Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK), which has waged a three-decade insurgency in Turkey’s southeast and is designated a terrorist organisation by the United States, European Union and Turkey.
Ankara says that weapons supplied to fighters in Syria have ended up in PKK hands, threatening Turkish security.
“I wonder what more evidence the US needs to accept that the … YPG is a terrorist organisation,” Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim told reporters as he left a mosque in Istanbul.
Displaying a photograph of the PKK terrorist leader damages US.-Turkey relations very seriously. With this move, the US is not only cooperating with terrorists, but they are endangering the future of Syria.
The banner of Ocalan was raised on Thursday by an all-female Kurdish militia. Kurdish YPG commanders and fighters were also shown chanting “Long Live Apo!”, as Ocalan is known by his followers, in a video of celebrations distributed by the YPG press office.