Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said on Thursday that the country would not be bound by the Syrian ceasefire plan if its security was threatened, and would take “necessary measures” against the Syrian Kurdish YPG and Islamic State if needed.
The ceasefire process, put in train by Russia and the United States, could be complicated by NATO member Turkey’s deep distrust of the Washington-backed Syrian Kurdish YPG militia, which has made territorial gains in northern Syria near the Turkish border. Turkey regards the YPG as a terrorist group and fears it will further inflame unrest among its own Kurdish population.
“The ceasefire is not binding for us when there is a situation that threatens Turkey’s security; we will take necessary measures against both the YPG and Daesh when we feel the need to,” Davutoglu said in comments broadcast live on CNN Turk television. “Daesh” is an Arabic acronym for Islamic State.
“Ankara is the only place that decides actions regarding Turkey’s security,” he said. However, he also said the ceasefire should not pave the way for new attacks.
Syria’s opposition has indicated it is ready for a two-week truce, saying it is a chance to test the seriousness of the Syrian government’s commitment to a cessation of hostilities.
The YPG told Reuters on Wednesday it would abide by the plan to halt the fighting, but reserved the right to respond if attacked. Turkey has shelled YPG positions in Syria in recent weeks, saying it was retaliating to cross-border fire.
Separately, foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said the YPG, like Islamic State, sought to divide Syria.
“The aim of the PYD and YPG is clear: just like Daesh, they want to divide Syria to form their own management,” Cavusoglu told the Anatolian agency in an interview broadcast live on television. The PYD is the political wing of the Syrian Kurdish militia.
“As the international support group, our aim is not to divide Syrian territory but to protect its territorial integrity,” he said.
He also told Anatolian that Saudi planes, due to take part in air strikes against Islamic State, were expected to arrive at Turkey’s Incirlik Air Base “today or tomorrow”.
The Dogan news agency cited army sources as saying Saudi F-15 warplanes would arrive at Incirlik on Friday, and that C-130 cargo planes had been shipping military materials to Incirlik for the last two days.