Erdogan says Russia-backed Syrian offensive aims to forge Kurdish militia corridor

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan makes a speech during his meeting with mukhtars at the Presidential Palace in Ankara, Turkey, November 26, 2015. REUTERS/Umit Bektas

ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday Russia and the Syrian government’s “brutal operation” in northern Syria, where their forces have advanced toward the Turkish border, was aimed at creating a corridor for Kurdish militia fighters.

Erdogan condemned criticism from Turkey’s allies for its shelling of the Kurdish YPG militia in Syria, saying the group and its PYD political wing were a creation of President Bashar al-Assad’s administration.

“Right now Russia’s brutal operation, along with the Syrian regime targeting civilians, is underway. Such attacks ... aim to form a belt for the PYD and the ground element of that is being handled by the YPG,” Erdogan said.

“I would like to address our Western allies once again: the YPG and PYD are terrorist organizations and those who have helped them form such structures will not be forgiven by history,” he told a news conference in Ankara.

Reporting by Humeyra Pamuk; Writing by Nick Tattersall