Turkey demands U.S. replace envoy in dispute over Kurds

ISTANBUL (AP) — Turkey has told the United States it will not join in any military operations that includes Kurdish fighters in Syria, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Thursday, while vowing to strike the U.S.-backed Kurds if they threaten Turkey’s security.

Turkey’s foreign minister also demanded that a U.S. envoy be removed for allegedly backing the Kurds, but the State Department said Brett McGurk has the “full support” of the Trump administration.

Speaking in Istanbul two days after meeting President Donald Trump in Washington, Erdogan criticized the U.S. decision to ally with “terror organizations” for the long-awaited operation to capture Raqqa, the de facto capital of ISIS.

“We said we would not be in such an operation with you where you ally with terror organizations and so we said good luck,” Erdogan said.

Turkey considers the People’s Protection Units, or YPG, in Syria a terror organization and an extension of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

“We are already telling you in advance, our rules of engagement give us this authority, we will take such a step and we won’t discuss it or consult with anyone,” Erdogan said.