Erdogan enraged by US support for blacklisted Kurdish militia
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has condemned the United States' support of Kurdish fighters in Syria after images emerged of US commandos wearing the insignia of a Kurdish militia branded a terror group by Ankara.
Erdogan said on Saturday that its allies must not wear the badge of the Kurdish People's Protection Units [YPG], as a US-backed, Kurdish-led assault on northern Raqqa province continues.
"The support they give to the YPG... I condemn it," said Erdogan.
"Those who are our friends, who are with us in NATO... cannot, must not send their soldiers to Syria wearing YPG insignia."
Erdogan's comments came after images of US troops in Syria wearing the insignia of the YPG emerged.
"US soldiers in the town of Ain Issa have been wearing the YPG insignia during the ongoing fighting against IS," a local source toldThe New Arab.
"Around 200 to 400 US soldiers entered Syria before the offensive to recapture Raqqa through the Simalka border crossing between Iraqi Kurdistan and Hasaka province with arms support for the Kurdish troops," said the source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
The source added that there are 50 US commandos on the frontlines of the battle and that they are mainly providing logistic support for US coalition air raids.
Ankara regards the YPG as a terror group, accusing it of carrying out attacks inside Turkey and being the Syrian branch of the Kurdistan Workers' Party [PKK] which has fought an insurgency against the Turkish state for over three decades.
The US scrambled on Friday to avert a rift with its ally Turkey after the pictures were widely published.
The Pentagon announced that special operations troops in northern Syria would henceforth stop wearing the badge of the YPG guerrillas, after Turkey accused the US of "unacceptable" behaviour.
Despite the US military's determination to continue to work with the YPG, which provides the bulk of the so-called "Syrian Democratic Forces" fighting the IS group, the Pentagon said the badges would be removed.