Turkey PM: U.S. Allowed Islamic State to Flee Syria’s Raqqa ‘with Their Weapons’

The prime minister of Turkey has accused America of turning a blind eye when the U.S.-backed Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) allegedly granted the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) permission to flee Syria’s Raqqa along with their weapons and munitions.

Hurriyet Daily News reported that Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım said, referring to the United States and its Kurdish allies, “Some have let [ISIS terrorists] leave Raqqa with their weapons instead of eliminating them from the city. Terrorists left with their weapons and the YPG-PKK [Kurdistan Worker’s Party] has replaced them. One terror group left Raqqa, and another settled there. Is this your rational policy? Is this your strategic, tactical cooperation?”

“The escaped [ISIS] members will be the reason for the deaths of innocent people in every corner of the world, including Turkey, Europe, and America,” he added later.

His comments come as the Russian Defense Ministry also accuses the United States of “providing de-facto cover” for ISIS jihadists in Syria “and only pretending to fight terrorism in the Middle East,” reported Reuters.

Specifically, the Kremlin said the U.S. military had tried to block Russian strikes on ISIS terrorists.

“These facts are conclusive evidence that the United States, while imitating an uncompromising fight against international terrorism for the global community, in fact, provides cover for Islamic State units,” claimed the Russian ministry.

As the U.S.-Turkey relationship deteriorated, Ankara improved its ties to the Kremlin.

YPG fighters dominate the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a Kurdish-Arab alliance that played a vital role in liberating ISIS’s former de-facto capital Raqqa in October.

BBC revealed that the SDF and ISIS reached an agreement to allow thousands of jihadists and their families escape from Raqqa along with their weapons and ammunition.

In a statement, the U.S.-led coalition stressed that it did not play a role in the evacuation deal discussions, adding that it stands against allowing ISIS jihadists to flee.

“We do not condone any arrangement that allows [ISIS] terrorists to escape [Raqqa] without facing justice, only to resurface somewhere else. We remain concerned about the thousands of civilians in [Raqqa] who remain subject to [ISIS] cruelty,” declared Brig. Gen. Jonathan Braga, a spokesman for the alliance. “[ISIS] terrorist have been hiding behind women and children for three years, and we are against any arrangement that lets them continue to do so.”

Despite its reservations about allowing ISIS jihadists to walk, the coalition believed the agreement would ultimately reduce civilian casualties.

“The coalition was not involved in the discussions that led to the arrangement, but it believes it will save innocent lives and allow Syrian Democratic Forces and the Coalition to focus on defeating [ISIS] terrorists in [Raqqa] with less risk of civilian casualties,” noted the statement.

“The arrangement is designed to minimize civilian casualties and purportedly excludes foreign Daesh [IS] terrorists,” it added.

A Pentagon spokesman said the United States “respected” the YPG-ISIS “agreement,” reports Hurriyet Daily News.

YPG forces make up the armed wing of the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) that controls vast swathes of northern Syria.

Turkey considers the YPG and its affiliates to be terrorists linked to the Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK), which both Washington and Ankara have officially designated as a terrorist organization.

America’s NATO ally Ankara has long blasted the United States for its alliance with the YPG, but the relationship continues.

The United States has described the YPG as one of the most effective fighters against ISIS in Syria.

Referring to the U.S.-YPG alliance, PM Yıldırım acknowledged that Turkey has consistently warned the United States not to back “one terrorist group in order to fight another terrorist group.”

Despite the discord between the United States and Turkey, the prime minister emphasized that Ankara “does not intend further strain or worsen ties” with Washington, pointed out Hurriyet. 

“We want to maintain a positive agenda with the U.S.,” he noted in discussing his recent meeting with U.S. Vice President Mike Pence in Washington.

At various times, the United States and Turkey have found themselves on opposite sides of the ongoing Syrian war.

The Turkish military has repeatedly clashed with U.S.-backed YPG fighters in Syria.

Moreover, battles have erupted between Turkey-backed fighters from the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and the U.S.-backed YPG.


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