Turkey not cool with U.S. forces wearing Kurdish insignia for Raqqa offensive

by WorldTribune Staff, May 27, 2016

It is not acceptable for U.S. soldiers to wear the insignia of the People’s Protection Units (YPG) when embedded with the Kurdish fighters, a Turkish official said.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said photos showing U.S. special operations forces wearing the YPG insignia on their shoulders during operations against Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL) in Raqqa “is a double standard and hypocrisy.”

U.S. special operations forces are seen in the northern Syrian province of Raqqa on May 25. /Delil Souleiman/AFP
U.S. special operations forces are seen in Raqqa province on May 25. /Delil Souleiman/AFP

“It is unacceptable that an ally country is using the YPG insignia. It is impossible to accept it,” Cavusoglu said on May 27.

The YPG is the armed wing of the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), which Turkey says is a Syrian offshoot of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), thus Turkey considers the YPG and PYD terrorist organizations.

U.S. special operations forces “do what they can to blend in with the community to enhance their own protection, their own security,” said Pentagon spokesperson Peter Cook.

Agence France-Presse released photos showing armed men in uniform identified by Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) as U.S. special operations in the northern Syrian province of Raqqa on May 25. Some of the soldiers seen in the photos wore the YPG insignia on their shoulders.

“Special operations forces in the past have worked with partners, and in the past have conducted themselves in such a way that they might operate in an atmosphere in which they are supportive of that local force in their advice and assist role,” Cook said.

“And they might be, again, for visual purposes, blending in with the local community,” he added.

The U.S.-backed SDF, which consists of the YPG, Syrian Arabs and Syriacs, launched an offensive against ISIL’s de facto capital of Raqqa on May 24.