The PKK likely poses more of a terror threat than the Daesh terrorist organization, U.S. President Donald Trump said Wednesday.
“Now the PKK, which is part of the Kurds, as you know, is probably worse at terror, and more of a terrorist threat in many ways than ISIS,” Trump said during a joint press conference with Italian President Sergio Mattarella. He used an alternative name for Daesh.
“I’m not going to get involved in a war between Turkey and Syria, especially when, if you look at the Kurds, and again I say this with great respect, they’re no angels,” he said, referring to the YPG/PKK. “If you look at PKK, take a look at PKK, ISIS respects PKK. You know why? Because they’re as tough or tougher than ISIS.”
“We’re making the Kurds look like angels,” he added.
The U.S.-led coalition to defeat Daesh further said it withdrew from three locations in northeastern Syria on Wednesday.
Coalition spokesman Army Col. Myles Caggins said on Twitter that forces vacated the Lafarge Cement Factory, Raqqa and Tabqah.
“Coalition forces continue a deliberate withdrawal from northeast #Syria,” Caggins wrote.
Turkey began its long-planned military operation Oct. 9 to secure its borders, aid in the safe return of Syrian refugees and ensure Syria’s territorial integrity.
Turkish leaders have repeatedly underlined that Operation Peace Spring does not target Kurds, but aims to clear the region of the terror group PKK and its Syrian offshoot YPG.
In its more than 30-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK — listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the European Union — has been responsible for deaths of 40,000 people, including women, children and infants.
*Servet Gunerigok contributed to this story from Washington