IZMIR — The US urged its main ally in the Syrian fight against the so-called Islamic State (IS) to rebrand itself, in order to avoid further opposition from Turkey, the head of US special forces said on Friday.
US Army General, Raymond Thomas, said during a security gathering in Aspen Colorado, that the Peoples' Protection Units (YPG) were advised to change the brand of the organization, in order to avoid further opposition from neighboring Turkey, who believes the YPG is equated to the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).
According to Thomas, shortly after the YPG was advised to change its name, the organization declared they were the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). The change was vital to getting the organization certain level of legitimacy, in regards to the talks about Syria's future, as the US special envoy Brett McGurk was able to include them in the discussions, Thomas added.
Before the rebranding, the Kurdish-led forces were excluded from all high-level meetings about Syria, as they were seen as part of PKK, which is recognized as a "terrorist organization" by both US and Turkey.
"You cannot belong to Ocalan and have any chance of legitimacy in the construct we're in... If they continue to keep linkage to past product, or PKK linkage specifically, the relationship [with US] is fraught with challenges," Thomas said, according to Anadolu Agency.
Currently the US views the SDF as a reliable partner in Syria, and continues providing military support and equipment to the group, which is to be used in the ongoing operations against IS in Raqqa. However, despite the rebranding, Ankara still considers all Kurdish-led forces in Syria related to the outlawed PKK.