Kurdish fighters ‘confused’ by U.S. allegiance with Turkey

In a Skype interview from northern Iraq, New York Times foreign correspondent Rukmini Callimachi reports on the tangled web of forces fighting the Islamic State militants.

Syrian Kurdish forces have taken control of wide swaths of land in northern Syria from Islamic State militants, but a new offensive by the Turkish government against their compatriots along the Turkish border has complicated their alliance with the United States, New York Times foreign correspondent Rukmini Callimachi told PBS NewsHour co-anchor Judy Woodruff on Thursday in this web-only interview.

Callimachi recently returned from spending about two weeks embedded with the YPG, the Syrian Kurdish militia fighting the Islamic State group (ISIS) in northern Syria.

“To Turkey, the idea of the Kurds having their own autonomous region is I think more of an existential threat than even ISIS,” said Callimachi. “So we now have this very complicated triangulation where you have the YPG in northern Syria working with the United States and the coalition actively fighting ISIS and succeeding … and at the same time you have Turkey, which just opened fire on the PKK (the Kurdistan Workers’ Party separatists), their sister group in Iraq and Turkey.”

The Syrian Kurdish militia considers the United States an ally in the fight against ISIS and, therefore, is “very confused” at the strong U.S. stance with Turkey, she said.

Watch her interview on Thursday’s PBS NewsHour about the Islamic State militants taking women and girls from the Yazidi religious minority as sex slaves. She profiled some of the women who managed to escape in the New York Times.

Callimachi also reported on ISIS’s influence within the United States.

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