Erdogan says Kurd militia not moved east of Euphrates despite claims



ANKARA, TURKEY- Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Friday dismissed claims that a Syrian Kurdish militia had retreated east of the Euphrates River in northern Syria following Turkish strikes against the group.
"Right now, people say they have gone to the east but we say no, they haven't crossed," he said during a speech at Ankara's Esenboga airport, referring to the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) militia which Ankara sees as a terror organisation linked to separatist rebels in southeast Turkey.



Erdogan said he did not believe what others, including the United States, said about the YPG crossing the river, adding that Turkey would be aware if the militia had moved.
Erdogan's remarks appeared to be in reference to comments made by a US defence official to AFP Monday that Kurdish forces had "all" moved east of the Euphrates.
The president also said he would prevent the YPG from creating a Syrian Kurdish region on Turkey's southern border.
"No one can expect us to permit a terror corridor to be created. We will not allow it," referring to a desire by Syrian Kurdish groups to unite the three "cantons" already in place in northern Syria.
His comments come more than a week after Turkey launched an unprecedented military operation to clear the border area of Islamic State (IS) jihadists and halt the westward advance of the YPG.
On Thursday, Ankara said it had cleared dozens of villages of "terrorists" after taking the town of Jarabulus without much resistance on the first day of the offensive on August 24.
During the operation, dubbed "Euphrates Shield", Turkey has also carried out strikes against the YPG.
It regards the YPG as a sister organisation to the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which has waged an insurgency that has left over 40,000 dead since 1984.
The PKK is proscribed as a terrorist organisation by Turkey, the European Union and the US, but the YPG is allied with the latter against IS.
Washington has given training and equipment to the group while it retakes areas from the extremists.
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Friday, September 2nd 2016
AFP
           


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