Turkey summons Swedish envoy over contacts with Syrian Kurds

SUZAN FRASER
·1 min read

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Turkey summoned Sweden's ambassador on Tuesday to protest Swedish government officials’ contacts with Syrian Kurdish groups that Ankara classifies as terror organizations, a Turkish Foreign Ministry official said.

During the meeting with Ambassador Staffan Herrstrom, Turkish officials “strongly condemned” a recent video conference that Swedish Defense Minister Peter Hultqvist had with the leaders of the Syrian Democratic Forces, or SDF, and from the group’s political arm, the Syrian Democratic Council, the official said.

The Turkish officials also protested similar communication by Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde, the ministry official said. The official provided the information on condition of anonymity in line with Turkish government regulations.

The U.S.-backed SDF is mostly made up of Syrian Kurdish fighters linked to the banned Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK, which since 1984 has led an insurgency in Turkey.

The United States and the European Union also have listed the PKK as a terrorist organization. They don't, however, consider the Syrian Kurdish groups as terrorist organizations, leading to frictions with Turkey.

The ministry official said Sweden's ambassador was told his country was “not only supporting those who target Syria’s territorial integrity and Turkey’s security, but is also openly violating international law and causing harm to (Turkish-Swedish) bilateral ties.”

Turkey “invited Sweden not to support terror organizations and to spend efforts toward Syria's unity, territorial integrity and lasting stability,” the official added.

Backed and funded by the United States, the SDP fought against the Islamic State group in northern Syria. Turkey launched military incursions into Syria to drive Syrian Kurdish fighters away from its border.