Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is not pleased with an addition some United States special forces have made to their uniforms.
Erdoğan quickly made clear he was upset after seeing photos of American soldiers with Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Unit insignias on their shoulders during an attack on Raqqa, as Turkey holds that the group has terrorist ties. American troops have been providing specialized assistance to the Kurdish forces in the fight against the Islamic State group there. “This was not what was promised to us,” he said Saturday at a ceremony in a southeastern region of Turkey.
“I am someone who believes that politics should be conducted honestly. Therefore, our allies, those who are with us in NATO, cannot and should not send their own soldiers to Syria with insignias” of the People’s Protection Unit, he said, according to the Hurriyet Daily News.
The Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Unit, referred to as YPG, is the militarized arm of the Kurdish Democratic Union Party, which the state of Turkey says is connected to the Kurdish Workers' Party (PKK), a group it classifies as a terrorist organization.
The Pentagon on Friday already had addressed the issue. While U.S. military forces do what they can to blend into local communities, a spokesperson told Voice of America, the insignias were unauthorized and had been ordered removed.
“The situation has been corrected, and we have communicated to our allies that such conduct was inappropriate,” Col. Steve Warren said.
Warren noted the decision to stop the unauthorized use of the insignias was mostly because of political sensitivities. While Turkey calls YPG a terrorist group because of its alleged connection to PKK, the U.S. does not share that view.
But it wasn’t just Erdoğan who condemned the insignias. Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu spoke out about the them as well, calling America “two-faced,” Al-Jazeera reported.
“It is unacceptable that an ally country is using the YPG insignia. We reacted to it. It is impossible to accept it. This is a double standard and hypocrisy,” Cavusoglu said.