ANKARA, Turkey, Aug. 31 (UPI) — Turkey has rejected claims of a cease-fire between Turkish forces and Kurdish militias in the Syrian town of Jarablus recently freed from Islamic State control.
Omer Celik, Turkey’s chief negotiator and minister of European Union affairs, on Wednesday said that no cease-fire agreement has been reached with the People’s Protection Units, also known as the YPG, or the Democratic Union Party, or PYD — both Kurdish militias fighting in Syria.
Turkey considers the Kurdish militias to be terrorist groups. The YPG and the PYD are part of the Syrian Democratic Forces militia coalition, which is supported by the United States.
“The Republic of Turkey is an independent, lawful state,” Celik told Anadolu Agency. “It cannot be evaluated as if they were equal and there was an agreement between them.”
“PYD’s activities in northern Syria benefit terror groups, not Kurdish people,” Celik added as he refuted recent reports of a cease-fire that cited U.S. officials.
Celik’s comments follow heightened tensions between Turkey, the United States and local Kurdish militias in Syria fighting against the Islamic State. Turkey recently initiated Operation Euphrates Shield, a cross-border military offensive in which Turkish tanks and soldiers entered Syria to secure Turkey’s southern border in response to Islamic State attacks.
On Monday, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu warned all Kurdish militias must move east of the Euphrates River in Syria or face being targeted.