ISTANBUL: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Sunday angrily lashed out at NATO, accusing the Western military alliance of failing to back Turkey’s campaign against Kurdish militia in Syria.
“Hey NATO where are you? We’re fighting so much. NATO, Turkey is not a NATO country? Where are you? You’ve invited NATO-member states to Afghanistan,” Erdogan said in remarks to supporters in Bolu, a city east of Istanbul.
Erdogan’s latest comments were among the toughest he has directed in recent times against NATO, which Turkey joined in 1,952 as the US sought to make sure it did not fall under Soviet sway after World War II.
Turkey launched its solo military offensive on January 20 seeking to oust the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) from the Afrin region of northern Syria with its forces now just a few kilometres away from Afrin town.
Turkey views the YPG as a terror organization but its NATO ally, the United States, backs the fighters to combat the IS group.
Speaking on Saturday, Erdogan said, when requested, Turkey sent troops to conflict zones but did not receive support in return.
Erdogan urged NATO to come to Turkey’s defense saying its borders are “under threat right now.”
“We are constantly harassed by terror groups on our borders,” he said. “Unfortunately until now, there has not been a positive word or voice.”
Erdogan slammed Washington for arming the YPG, saying the group had received 5,000 trucks and 2,000 cargo planes of weapons.