Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan criticized the United States for supplying weapons in the Syria conflict to offshoots of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, which he considers terrorist organizations.
“Think of our strategic partner engaging in such acts,” he told PBS NewsHour correspondent Amna Nawaz on Wednesday. “That is sad for us to see. It’s wrong.”
The Turkish president said he still considered the U.S. a “strategic partner” within NATO, and that Turkey is fulfilling its duties as a partner.
Other highlights from the interview:
On avoiding conflict in Syria’s heavily populated Idlib province: Erdogan said the cease-fire he brokered with Russia is “progressing well.” He said they are working to remove heavy weaponry and have identified the groups of extremist fighters who must leave.
On allegations that he is purging his political opposition: Erdogan said he has detained tens of thousands of people following an attempted coup in 2016, but not the hundreds of thousands that his critics claim.
“Currently there are people behind bars, it’s true. There are 32,000 detained people who have been arrested. It’s not hundreds of thousands like you have put. Those trials must, and I hope, will be completed by the end of this year.”
He also said six or seven Americans are behind bars, not 15 to 20 as Amnesty International reported, and “maybe 20 or 30” journalists, instead of the 73 figure that advocates cite.