Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says he has “confirmed evidence” that the US-led coalition is supporting Daesh and other terrorist groups in Syria.
"What were the coalition forces saying in the beginning? They were saying: 'We will fight against the terrorist organization Daesh until the end.' In fact, they were accusing us of supporting Daesh. Now they've all disappeared. On the contrary, they give support to terrorist groups including Daesh, YPG (Kurdish People’s Protection Units), PYD (Democratic Union Party). It's very clear. We have confirmed evidence, with pictures, photos and videos," said Erdogan during a Tuesday press conference.
The US and some of its regional allies, in particular Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey, have on multiple occasions been accused of arming and funding militant groups fighting the Syrian government for nearly six years.
Ankara deems the PYD as a branch of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which has been engaged in an armed insurgency against the Turkish state since 1984 and designated as a terrorist group by the US.
Turkey has vowed to press ahead with its hunt for Kurdish militants in both Iraq and Syria.
Erdogan’s announcement came just one day after former US Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein accused Washington of backing terrorist groups when it serves its interests.
The Turkish president also stressed that the US had failed to keep its promise of air support in Ankara’s operations to liberate the Syrian city of al-Bab from Daesh.
Turkey is in the middle of a military operation to capture al-Bab from Daesh. Ankara, which started its incursion into Syria in August, claims that it is only supporting the militants in northern Syria in the drive against Daesh. However, reports over the past days have suggested that Turkish troops have been directly involved in the battle in al-Bab.
The ongoing assault in al-Bab has inflicted significant casualties on civilians. The so-called Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Friday that around 90 civilians, including 21 children, had lost their lives in a matter of 24 hours as Turkey intensified its airstrikes on the town.
Erdogan remarks ‘ludicrous’
Following Erdogan’s claims, US State Department Spokesman Mark Toner said that it was "ludicrous" to even suggest that the US-led coalition is backing terrorist groups in Syria.
"I mean it's ludicrous to be honest. No basis for truth as you can all imagine. You know, I don't think anyone can look at our actions on the ground leading the coalition in northern Syria, in Iraq, and say anything other than that we're 100 percent behind the defeat, destruction of Daesh," he said.
He added that the US is working constructively with Turkey to defeat the terrorists and is constantly in contact with Ankara over how to do so.
"We support their efforts. We have supported their efforts along the border to clear it of Daesh. You know we're in dialogue with them about possible next steps we can take in terms of al-Bab. I mean we don't, certainly don't want to see them, you know, enter into al-Bab without sufficient support, but again you know these are discussions we have on a daily basis with the Turks," he added.
Toner noted that the US is, however, mindful of the tensions that exist between Turkish-supported forces and the YPG and other forces that Washington supports in the area. “That's the reason why we're working closely, having these discussions and trying to coordinate with them," he said.