Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.jpg
Photograph: EPA/TURKISH PRESIDENT PRESS OFFICE/HANDOUT

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday slammed the United States over Washington's support for a Syrian-Kurdish militia that is fighting Islamic State.

The People's Protection Units (YPG) launched, together with more than 200 US special forces and Arab allies, an operation aimed at taking villages north of Islamic State's de-facto Syrian capital al-Raqqa and thereby increasing pressure on the extremist group.

"The support the US has given to the PYD and YPG ... I condemn it," he said in a speech made in Diyarbakir, a major city in the mostly-Kurdish south-east of Turkey.

Turkey has dubbed the YPG - the military wing of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) - a terrorist organization, citing its links to the banned Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) which has been locked in armed conflict with the state since 1984.

In his speech, Erdogan also referred to Kurdish militants as "atheists" and "Zoroastrians," adding that they do not share Turkey's values.

The US, while not entirely denying the links to the PKK, sees the groups as two separate entities. The YPG has proven to be the most reliable US ally on the ground in Syria fighting Islamic State, helping seize vast swaths of territory from the extremists.

This week, US special forces were photographed in Syria wearing uniforms with the YPG emblem, angering Turkey. The Pentagon has ordered the troops to remove the insignia but made no other moves.

Diyarbakir itself has seen heavy fighting in recent months between state forces and the PKK, after a ceasefire broke down last year amid mutual recriminations.

Many Kurds in Turkey's south-east complain of systemic discrimination. The PKK started as a separatist group but in recent years has focused on demanding greater rights and autonomy.

Islamic State is currently engaged in heavy fighting with Syrian rebel groups in northern Aleppo, some of whom are reportedly backed by Turkey, which is a generally a staunch supporter of the Syrian opposition to President Bashar al-Assad.

Several rockets have landed in Turkey in the past two days from areas seeing fighting. In the past Turkey, has blamed Islamic State for some rocket attacks. About 20 people have died from rockets on southern Turkey this year.

Turkey's state-run Anadolu news agency claimed the military killed 104 Islamic State fighters in response to the latest rockets, but there was no independent confirmation of this report from sources in Syria.

Latest news

Thousands of Romanians revive anti-government protests

Thousands of Romanians turned out on Sunday to renew their demands for the government to step down amid accusations it is trying to protect corrupt politicians.

Francis, first pope to visit Anglicans in Rome, weighs S Sudan trip

Pope Francis became the first leader of the Catholic Church to visit the Anglican community in Rome on Sunday, where he said he was considering a trip to famine-struck South Sudan.

Ibrahimovic lifts Man United past Southampton in League Cup final

Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored an 87th-minute winner as Manchester United beat Southampton 3-2 in an exciting League Cup final on Sunday.

London screens Iranian director's film amid Oscars boycott

Thousands of people watched a free screeening of Iranian director Asghar Farhadi's film "The Salesman" in London on Sunday to coincide with the Oscars.

Real Madrid stage comeback to stay top; Messi scores in Barcelona win

Lionel Messi scored the winner as Barcelona beat Atletico Madrid 2-1 on Sunday to move top of the Spanish first division.

Dubrovnik Sun Gardens Hotel member of The Leading Hotels of the World

The Dubrovnik Sun Gardens Hotel has joined the Leading Hotels of the World, Ltd., a global hospitality consortium of more than 375 hotels and resorts in over 75 countries.

Biggest Bosnian Serb party ceases all contact with Izetbegovic over ICJ judjment review request

The main committee of the biggest Bosnian Serb party which makes up the ruling majority in Bosnia and Herzegovina decided o Sunday that its officials would cease all contact with member of the Bosnian President Bakir Izetbegovic until the crisis occurred following the submission of a request to the International Court of justice (ICJ) to review its ruling against Serbia is resolved.

Egypt court adjourns Morsi retrial over prison escape

An Egyptian court adjourned a case against former president Mohamed Morsi until March 29 on Sunday, during the first session of his retrial over orchestrating a prison escape during the 2011 uprising.

Hamas rejects Netanyahu's proposal for international forces in Gaza

The Islamic Hamas movement rejected on Sunday Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's proposal to send international forces to the Gaza Strip, the coastal enclave that Hamas has been ruling since 2007.

Deloitte: Growing optimism among CFOs

Chief financial officers (CFOs) in Croatia are more optimistic about growth and financial prospects in 2017 than they were last year, with most of them expecting increases in their company's revenue, a survey shows.

Russian agents main suspects for attempted coup in Montenegro

Russian citizens Eduard Shumakov and Vladimir Popoc, suspected of organising terrorist activities in Montenegro and forming a criminal organisation, are agents of Russia's Main Intelligence Agency (GRU), British, U.S. and other intelligence agencies confirmed, the Podgorica-based media reported on Sunday.

Six injured, 96 detained in Berlin fan clashes

Six people were treated in hospital and 96 detained in clashes in Berlin between fans of Hertha Berlin and Eintracht Frankfurt, police said Sunday.