Erdogan says it is disrespectful to conflate YPG and Kurds

President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks during the opening ceremony of 2019-2020 academic year for higher education at Bestepe National Congress and Culture Center in Ankara, Turkey on September 18, 2019. ( Mustafa Kamacı - Anadolu Agency )

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SULAIMANI — Amid Turkish military attacks on Kurdish fighters in northern Syria, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said it is disrespectful to conflate the People’s Protection Units (YPG) and Kurds as a group.   

Erdogan spoke in an opening ceremony for Social Security Institutions district branches in Istanbul on Saturday (November 16) and argued for the rhetorical separation of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) from Kurdish people.

“They [the YPG] are terrorists,” Erdogan said, according to Anadolu Agency.  He urged people not to confuse “terrorists with my Kurdish brothers.”

Turkey sees the YPG and the Women’s Protection Units (YPJ) as “terrorist organizations” and extensions of the PKK.

Turkey began a cross-border offensive against the YPG in Syria last month after Trump announced the withdrawal of US troops from the area. At one point around 300,000 people fled their homes and 100,000 remain displaced, according to the UN.

Erdogan's remarks are likely a response to international outcry over the offensive. Many critical remarks have been characterized the operation as one against the Kurds.

Turkey’s military conducted two other operations in northern Syria over the last three years.

(NRT Digital Media)