Turkey summons ambassador to accuse Sweden of ‘supporting terrorists’

The protest came after Swedish ministers met officials from the internationally backed Syrian SDF

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu looks on during a news conference with his Greek counterpart Nikos Dendias (not pictured) in Ankara, Turkey April 15, 2021. Turkish Foreign Ministry/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS PICTURE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVE.
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Turkey summoned Sweden’s Ambassador to demand an explanation after two Swedish ministers met with members of the internationally backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which Ankara considers a terrorist group.

The SDF was the main partner in the US-led international coalition fighting against ISIS on the ground in Syria.

While the SDF is made up of Kurdish and Arab groups, Ankara says the control and backbone of the force are made up of the Syrian Kurdish YPG, an offshoot of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militia that has waged a decades-old insurgency against the Turkish state.

Turkish diplomatic sources said the ambassador was summoned to the ministry over a recent videoconference between Swedish Defence Minister Peter Hultqvist and senior SDF officials and added the call came shortly after contact between Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde and "terrorist elements".

The ambassador was told that Turkey "strongly condemned" the contacts and that "Sweden's dangerous politics were not just supporting those targeting Syria's territorial integrity and Turkey's security, but also amounted to clearly a violation of international law, and therefore continue to seriously harm our bilateral ties", the sources said.

Sweden's Foreign Ministry confirmed the summons and said the government did not meet organisations that were on the European Union's list of terrorist organisations.

Turkey has backed rebels looking to remove Syrian President Bashar Al Assad and has carried out four cross-border operations into Syria against Russian-backed Syrian government forces, ISIS and the YPG.

In a 2019 cross-border operation with the support of rebels, Turkey seized 120-kilometre border territory in northeast Syria from the YPG.

The offensive was widely condemned by its western allies, but Ankara has repeatedly urged Washington and other countries to stop supporting the YPG.