FILE PHOTO: Mazloum Kobani, SDF commander in chief is pictured during an interview with Reuters in Ain Issa, Syria, December 13, 2018. REUTERS/Rodi Said/File Photo
ANKARA (Reuters) – Turkey criticized the United States on Thursday for treating the commander of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) as a “legitimate political figure,” underlining continued tensions with Washington despite the end of its offensive in Syria.
Republican and Democratic U.S. senators urged the State Department on Wednesday to quickly provide a visa to the commander, General Mazloum Kobani, so he can visit the United States to discuss the situation in Syria.
Ankara views Mazloum as a terrorist closely linked to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which has waged a decades-long insurgency in Turkey.
“We are deeply concerned about the treatment (of Mazloum)…. This individual is a senior leader of the PKK, which the United States and others consider a terrorist organization, and a fugitive from justice,” said Fahrettin Altun, director of communications for President Tayyip Erdogan.
“He is the subject of an outstanding Interpol red notice. He is wanted for multiple terror attacks targeting the Turkish security forces, a NATO army, as well as civilians,” Altun told Reuters.
Turkey will start paperwork for extradition of Kobani from Washington, Erdogan said.
“Mazloum is a terrorist sought with a red notice. What does this mean? … The United States needs to hand over this man to us because he is wanted with a red notice,” Erdogan said in a broadcast interview.
“I told my justice minister today. They will do necessary paperwork for request. They (the U.S.) need to give him to us.”
Reporting by Orhan Coskun; Writing by Gareth Jones; Editing by Dan Grebler