Raqqah operation started on Friday night: Turkish PM
A U.S.-backed operation to liberate Syria’s northern city of Raqqah from Daesh began on Friday night, Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said on Saturday.
Addressing the media in the capital Ankara, Yildirim said the United States informed Turkey about the operation before it was launched, Anadolu reported.
He reiterated Turkey's disapproval of the U.S. methods in the Raqqah operation and added the American side had reassured that weapons used by the PKK/PYD terror group in Syria would not become a threat to Turkey.
"They [the U.S.] told us that it was not an option but an obligation [to cooperate with the PKK/PYD in the Raqqah operation] and that the tactical cooperation with them would not be maintained for long after the operation," he said.
The difference between Washington and Ankara on Syria mainly derives from how they regard the armed groups in the region.
The Turkish government considers the PYD/YPG to be the Syrian offshoot of the PKK, a designated terrorist organization by Turkey and the U.S.
However, the U.S. does not view the PKK/PYD similarly, instead it relies on the group extensively in the battle against Daesh in northern Syria. The YPG-backed Syrian Democratic Forces have been Washington's principal partner in the anti-Daesh fight.
The prime minister said the terrorist groups inside and outside Turkey which are a threat to the country are "all the same whether their name is PKK/PYD/YPG or Daesh or DHKP-C."
About media claims that the U.S. may take PKK out of its designated terrorist organization list, Yildirim said neither such information had been received nor did Turkey expect such a step.
About the extradition of Fetullah Gulen -- the leader of Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO) that Turkey accuses of being behind July 2016 defeated coup, Yildirim said: "We are waiting for the U.S. law to rule instantly [...] We are sending them the needed information and documents."
He added Turkey was closely watching the judicial process in the U.S. over the issue.
Turkey has repeatedly requested the extradition of Gulen -- who has lived in Pennsylvania since 1999 -- and issued an arrest warrant for him.
Yildirim also criticized Germany for tolerating FETO and PKK supporters on its territory.
"This harms the relations of two NATO allies which have had historical strategic partnership," he said, adding the issue would be discussed in detail with German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel who will visit Turkey on Monday.
When a reporter asked about possible changes in the Turkish Cabinet, he said: “Is there anybody among you who wants to be in the Cabinet? Then it is nothing to be curious about.
“It is not something to be talked about. One day you will see whether it has been changed.”