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UK Secretary of State for Defence says Kurds, Turkey should work together against ISIS

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 UK Secretary of State for Defence, Ben Wallace, on Wednesday, said Britain should work with Turkey and Kurdish forces to help them focus on the fight against the so-called Islamic State and other extremist groups in Syria.

Wallace made the comments during a briefing on the Islamic State in the UK parliament in response to a question by Jack Lopresti, a prominent Conservative UK MP for Filton and Bradley Stoke, and member of the pro-Kurdish All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Kurdistan.

“Indeed, we should work with both Turkey and Kurdish forces to make sure that they both accommodate each other and that they understand there is often a common need for them to work together,” he said.

The Secretary of State for Defence also praised the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) for their “huge sacrifices in the fight against Da’esh,” adding Britain is “deeply grateful to them.”

“The Coalition continues to support this fight through aerial missions, seeking out [ISIS] locations and striking when necessary.”

During the question and answer session, Scottish National Party MP for Glasgow South West, Chris Stephens, also asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he thinks Turkish actions to attack the SDF while they look after thousands of ISIS fighters and families are counterproductive.

]Turkey believes the SDF and People’s Protection Units (YPG) are linked to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has waged a decades-long resistance against the Turkish government for broader Kurdish rights. The YPG and the US-led Coalition against ISIS has denied that the YPG is linked to the PKK.

Since 2016, the Turkish army and Turkish-backed rebels have occupied Syrian territory and launched three operations to prevent the SDF from taking more territory.

Secretary of State for Defence Wallace made clear that the Syrian Kurds should not be attacked. “In Syria, the Kurds are a key part of bringing stability to that country,” he affirmed. “It is stability in that country that will prevent further refugee flows and the unstable borders, and it is in everybody’s interest to work together.”

The UK has been eager to accommodate Turkey due to negotiations over a potential UK-Turkish free trade agreement for the post-Brexit era when the UK leaves the European Union.

The UK has attempted to prosecute British volunteers that fought ISIS with the YPG but has also supported the YPG as part of the Global Coalition.
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