Turkey summons US diplomat over top general's visit to Kurdish-controlled northeast Syria
Turkey on Monday summoned US ambassador Jeff Flake to convey its discomfort about the top US general's visit to northeast Syria, controlled by Kurdish-dominated militias, over the weekend, a foreign ministry source said.
Army General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, made the unannounced visit on 4 March to review a nearly eight-year-old US mission to an area controlled by the US-allied Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).
The SDF played a key role in the US-backed offensive against the Islamic State group, but Washington's support for the group has been a source of tension with Turkey for years.
Turkey sees the People's Protection Units (YPG), the spearhead of the SDF, as the Syrian wing of the outlawed separatist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) and considers both as terrorist organisations. Kurdish militants from the PKK have been blamed for hundreds of attacks on Turkish military and civilian targets over the past four decades.
The US and EU have also designated the PKK as a terrorist group, but not the YPG.