Biggest issue with US is its support to YPG, not S-400s: Defense minister

The biggest problem between Turkey and the United States is the latter's continued support to the YPG in eastern Syria, Defense Minister Hulusi Akar has said, calling on its NATO ally to revise its decision to impose sanctions on the Turkish defense industry body over the acquisition of the Russian S-400 systems.

"The biggest problem between us is not the S-400s. Isn't the PKK/YPG a terror organization? Then we should start from there. Our American friends should give an answer to this. We should be able to name it," Akar told daily Hürriyet in an interview on Dec. 18.

Akar referred to the U.S. political and military support to the YPG as a local force it cooperates with in the fight against ISIL. Turkey sees the YPG as the Syrian offshoot of the PKK, and therefore as a terrorist structure.

The U.S. has supported the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and stresses this partnership is only aiming to fully eradicate the ISIL terrorist network in eastern Syria.

Akar's statement comes days after the U.S. has imposed sanctions on the Turkish Defense Industry Presidency and its four top executives under the Countering American Adversaries through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) for purchasing the S-400 air defense systems from Russia.

Turkey had received the components of the system in mid-2019 and accomplished the test firing in October 2020. The U.S. law is aiming to deter countries from buying Russian military equipment.

US should revise decision

"Sanctions are not right. They shake trust and friendship. Our wish is that our American allies will reverse the decision and focus on mid and long-term planning by the prevailing of common sense. We are in favor of friendship," he said.

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