Turkish PM calls coalition selection of PYD as Raqqa partner unfortunate

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ANKARA, TURKEY - MARCH 7: Jordanian prime minister Hani Al-Mulki (R) is welcomed by Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım (L) at the Çankaya Palace in Ankara, Turkey on March 7, 2017. AFP

Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım told reporters on Tuesday that the selection of the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) as a partner in the fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) by the US-led Global Coalition to Counter ISIL is unfortunate.

Speaking at a press conference with his Jordanian counterpart in Ankara, Yıldırım said, “It is hugely unfortunate that the PYD has been selected as a partner in Syria,” going on to say that no terrorist organization can be exterminated by using another terrorist organization, in reference to ISIL.

In February, it was reported in Turkish media that the PYD was digging trenches around the Syrian city of Manbij against efforts by Turkish troops and Free Syrian Army (FSA) forces to take control of the city.

The PYD took control of Manbij in early August thanks to military support from the US.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had said in February that after taking control of the Syrian city of al-Bab, Turkish troops and FSA forces would continue on to Manbij and Raqqa in northern Syria.

We have been trying to cleanse the region of terrorists. Al-Bab is almost finished. Manbij and Raqqa are next. Al-Bab is not our final target. Our final target is to clear the region of Daesh [ISIL]. The real center of Daesh is Raqqa,” Erdoğan said during a press conference at İstanbul Atatürk Airport before departing for a trip to Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

Erdoğan said Turkish troops and Syrian rebel allies have entered the ISIL-held al-Bab, adding that its capture was “just a matter of time.”

As part of an operation called Euphrates Shield, Turkey sent tanks across the border to help Syrian rebels drive ISIL from the border city of Jarabulus in late August, n a dramatic escalation of its involvement in the Syrian civil war.

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