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Ankara decries ‘provocative’ remarks by US anti-IS envoy

Turkey continues to be concerned about the relationship between the United States and the Syrian Kurds.
Brett McGurk, U.S. envoy to the coalition against Islamic State, speaks during a news conference at the U.S. Embassy in Amman, Jordan, November 6, 2016. REUTERS/Muhammad Hamed - RTX2S6NC

Turkish fury over the United States’ ongoing partnership with the Syrian Kurds showed no signs of abating as Ankara made a formal complaint against the top US official it views as one of the main architects of the alliance. The Turkish Foreign Ministry announced over the weekend that it had protested remarks by Brett McGurk, the US special envoy for the global coalition against the Islamic State (IS), calling them “provocative.”

The Foreign Ministry was referring to McGurk’s apparent allusions to Turkey’s role in the emergence of the growing threat of the al-Qaeda-linked militant army Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS, formerly Jabhat al-Nusra and recently rebranded), which is expanding its grip over Syria’s Idlib province, on the Turkish border. Speaking at a panel at the Middle East Institute (MEI) in Washington July 27, McGurk said, “The approach by some of our partners to send tens of thousands of tons of weapons and looking the other way as these foreign fighters came into Syria may not have been the best approach. And al-Qaeda has taken full advantage of it.”

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