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Turkey calls for removal of US anti-IS coalition chief

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu has called for the removal of Brett McGurk, the senior US envoy to the coalition against the Islamic State. He said McGurk has indirectly supported Kurdish militants. 

Brett McGurk - a special presidential envoy and a holdover from the former President Barack Obama's administration - has been part of the global coalition, which has 68 members, since its early days in 2014, during which time the coalition has reduced territory under the control of the Islamic State (IS).

He is seen by Ankara as having a close working relationship with the Syrian Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) militia, which are regarded as having fought effectively against IS. He visited the Kurdish group's territory in northern Syria this week.

Read more: The Middle East's complex Kurdish landscape

The US decided to arm and equip the YPG inside Syria as it moves to take the city of Raqqa from IS in a move that angered Ankara.

Cavusoglu accused McGurk of supporting the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), a militant group inside Turkey fighting the government as part of a 30-year plus insurgency over minority rights, Cavusoglu told the broadcaster NTV.

The PKK is listed by both Washington and Ankara as a terrorist organization. 

Syrien Türkei Grenze YPG Kämpfer mit amerikanischen Flaggen bei Tal-Abyad (Getty Images/AFP)

The Turkish side of the Syrian border in the town of Akcakale showing a US flag at a YPG position

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan visited the White House this week, but appeared unable to alter President Donald Trump's plan to work with the YPG on the fight for Raqqa, IS's de facto capital.

The YPG said it is separate from the PKK and insisted it does not want conflict with Ankara.

Watch video 02:06

Trump, Erdogan seek to repair frayed ties

jbh/sms (dpa, AP)

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