Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said his country opposes the idea of a Kurdish-controlled autonomous government in northern Syria.
His comments came as Kurdish militia drove the Takfiri group ISIL from the Syrian town of Kobani just across the Turkish border and raised their flags on Monday, in a heavy blow to terrorists after months of intensive fighting.
“We do not want a new Iraq. What’s this? Northern Iraq,” Erdogan told Turkey’s Hurriyet newspaper aboard a plane en route from an African tour at the weekend. He was referring to the Kurdish-controlled part of Iraq known as Iraqi Kurdistan.
“A northern Syria there after northern Iraq… It is not possible for us to accept this,” he said. “Such formations will lead to grave problems in the future.”
Kurdish forces gradually pushed back ISIL militants who have been operating in Iraq and Syria.
Turkey, which has fought a 30-year insurgency against Kurdish rebels in its southeast, has hesitated to act for Kobani over fears it could embolden Kurdish forces.
Erdogan has in the past said that his country will not allow “a terrorist group to establish camps in northern Syria” and threaten Turkey.
Ankara blacklists the rebel Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) — which uses its safe havens in northern Iraq as a springboard for deadly attacks on its soil — as a terrorist organization and sees the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) as a Syrian branch of the PKK.