US Vice President Joe Biden said that Washington recognizes the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) is as much of a threat to Turkey as ISIS.
Speaking alongside the Turkish prime minister during a press conference in Istanbul, Biden voiced his support for a Turkish crackdown, saying Kurdish militants and IS are ‘terror groups plain and simple’
He told reporters that ISIS was “not the only existential threat to the people of Turkey, the PKK is equally a threat and we are aware of that”
Turkey has however been criticised over its campaign against Kurdish militants. A recent report by Amnesty International said the Turkish government’s imposition of round-the-clock curfews and severing of public services is “putting the lives of up to 200,000 people at risk and amounts to collective punishment.”
Biden added that he discussed with Davutoglu how the two allies could try and work together to support Syrian rebel groups who oppose President Bashar Assad. The US vice president backed Ankara in its battle with the banned Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), saying it was as much of a threat to Ankara as Islamic State, and that Turkey must do everything necessary to protect its citizens.
However, the pair disagreed about the status of the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) in northern Syria, with Biden saying there is a difference between the PYD and PKK.
“To say that these [groups] are separate, one should be unaware that those [PKK] guns are coming to [Turkey] from Syria,” Davutoglu said, according to Reuters.
Ankara believes the Syrian Kurds are looking to create a corridor along the northern border with Turkey, which would cut off Turkey from sharing a boundary with Syria.
“The PYD is a terrorist organization that cooperates with the Syrian regime. Struggling against Daesh does not grant them legitimacy,” the Turkish prime minister said.
Turkey has carried out attacks on Kurdish forces in northern Syria. In late July, the Kurds said they had been bombed at least four times, with civilians being among the casualties. Ankara maintained its airstrikes were aimed at members of the PKK.
Kurdish fighters have proved to be some of the most effective forces in helping to combat Islamic State in northern Syria, while borders in territories under its control have been sealed to stop the flow of foreign IS militants into Syria.