Tayyip Erdogan.jpg
Photograph: EPA/OLIVIER HOSLET

Turkey's president has criticized US presidential candidate Hillary Clinton's "political inexperience" for her comments on arming Kurdish rebels in the fight against Islamic State.

Addressing lawyers on Wednesday in Ankara, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan described the comments by the Democratic candidate and former US secretary of state as "very unfortunate" and "political dilettantism."

In Sunday's presidential debate with Republican Donald Trump, Clinton ruled out a large-scale operation involving ground troops in Iraq and Syria against Islamic State, but vowed to go after the extremist group's leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, and offer military aid to the Kurds and others.

Erdogan warned Washington against arming the Kurds, saying that "working with terrorist organizations is like playing with fire."

In the debate, Clinton did not mention the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), which Turkey regards as the Syrian branch of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) that is outlawed by Ankara.

She also did not mention by name the PYD's armed wing, the People's Protection Units (YPG).

The US has allied with the Syrian Kurds against Islamic State since 2014, and its airstrikes have enabled Kurdish forces to capture most of the territory the extremist group held along the Turkish border.

Turkey says the Syrian Kurds have ties with the PKK, while Washington has urged Ankara to refrain from further attacks on the Kurds, straining ties between the NATO allies.

In addition to fighting Islamic State in northern Syria, Turkey is also trying to prevent the Kurds from gaining new ground.

 

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