Erdogan said the US-led defense block, of which Turkey has been a part for decades, must clarify its stance on the planned Afrin-based border force as envisioned by Washington.
The force would be created from the Kurd-dominated YPG, which Ankara considers a terrorist organization and an extension of the Turkey-based Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) militant group.
“I would like to call upon NATO,” Erdogan told on Tuesday members of the ruling party in the Turkish parliament. “You have to take actions against the ones who threaten the border security of your Allies.”
Turkey's Chief of the General Staff General Hulusi Akar, who is in the Belgian capital to meet NATO top brass, earlier said Ankara will not allow the YPG to receive support from other members of the organization.
“We cannot and will not allow support and arming of the YPG terrorist group under the name of an operational partner. We hope this mistake will be corrected in the shortest time,” the general said.
While Ankara was the most vocal critic of the border force plan, other nations involved in the Syrian conflict expressed their negative attitude to it as well. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said the plan indicated that the US was planning to partition Syria.
Criticism of the plan also came from Iran, with the Foreign Ministry warning that it may incite more violence.
“The US announcement of a new border force in Syria is an obvious interference in the internal affairs of this country,” ministerial spokesman Bahram Qasemi was cited as saying on Tuesday by IRNA. He added that the US must withdraw its troops from Syria.
Qassemi further said the announcement comes at a time when the Syrian army and its allies have made sweeping gains in their fight against the terrorist groups of ISIS and al-Nusra Front.”
“The Islamic Republic of Iran, together with the Russian Federation and the Republic of Turkey, is making efforts to contain the flames of the crisis through the Astana peace talks and the creation of de-escalation zones,” Qassemi said, noting that the trio has so far made significant achievements.
The Pentagon currently has an estimated 2,000 troops on the ground in Syria. The American soldiers were involved in the YPG operation to capture the city of Raqqa from the jihadist group Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) last year. Despite the defeat of the Islamists, the US said it had no intention to withdraw the troops, which were deployed without an invitation from Damascus or mandate from the UN Security Council.