Türkiye has identified YPG militias in Syria as the masterminds behind the deadly bombing in Istanbul and will not accept condolences from the US, which has has supported them in the past.
“We have received the message, but we will not accept and are rejecting condolences from the US embassy,” Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu told journalists, as quoted by TASS.
Soylu’s rebuke came as he updated the media on the response by Turkish law enforcement following Sunday’s attack, which killed six people and left 81 others injured.
The Turkish official pointed the finger at Syria-based Kurdish YPG militias as the people behind the bombing attack, claiming that “the terror plot came from Ayn al-Arab” – the district in northern Syria where the predominantly Kurdish city of Kobani is located.
Ankara considers the YPG to be part of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), a Turkish-Kurdish militia group that has waged a decades-old guerrilla war against the government. The US has designated the PKK as a terrorist organization.
It helped Syrian Kurdish fighters by providing weapons, training and air support as part of Washington’s military involvement in Syria. The YPG fought against the forces of the terrorist group Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) with Washingtion’s assistance. The Turkish government complained that by bolstering the YPG, the US was undermining Türkiye’s national security.
Sunday’s bombing occurred on the iconic Istiklal Avenue, one of Istanbul’s biggest tourist attractions. Soylu announced on Monday that Turkish law enforcement had arrested 46 people in connection with the bombing, including the woman who allegedly dropped the bomb before fleeing the scene, along with the person accused of organizing the plot.
Russian President Vladimir Putin expressed Russia’s condolences in relation to the attack in a Monday morning cable addressed to his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Russia “confirmed its commitment to closest cooperation with Turkish partners in fighting all forms of terrorism,” the message released by the Kremlin said.