Turkey summons U.S. diplomat for supporting Syrian Kurd group

Relations between Turkey and the USA were harmed by Washington's refusal to extradite cleric Fetullah Gulen and its provision of arms to the Kurdish militant YPG, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Wednesday.

Turkish police arrested at least 17 people on Thursday over alleged links with the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO), the group behind 2016 defeated coup, according to security sources.

Turkey on Wednesday summoned a top USA diplomat in Ankara to protest Washington's support of a Kurdish militia in Syria, sources in the Turkish Foreign Ministry said, the latest in a long-standing disagreement between the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies.

While the U.S. views the Peoples' Protection Units (YPG) militia as the most effective fighting force on the ground against Islamic State (IS) extremists, Ankara calls it a "terrorist" organisation linked to outlawed Kurdish militants in Turkey. In May 2017, Deputy Prime Minister Nurettin Canikli called the supply of weapons to the Kurdish forces "unacceptable". On Friday, January 12, there was also a telephone conversation of Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov.

Earlier, Cavusoglu said the country doesn't rule out a new military operation against YPG and PYD in Afrin.

Turkey has been complaining about the attacks undertaken by Damascus forces in Idlib region.

Vanessa Coleman