Two days ago, Turkey's outspoken president Erdogan, now grudgingly pivoting into the Russian sphere of influence and away from NATO, accused the US of supporting and arming ISIS and said he has "confirmed evidence" to back up his claim: "They give support to terrorist groups including ISIS" Erdogan said during a speech in Ankara on Tuesday, adding that US coalition forces "give support to terrorist groups including Daesh, YPG, PYD. It's very clear. We have confirmed evidence, with pictures, photos and videos."
Naturally, the US could not possibly let this allegation go without responding, which it did on Wednesday when it denied Erdogan's allegations, and accusing Turkey of spreading "fake news."
In an online statement posted on the website of the Turkish embassy, addressed "to those interested in the truths," the U.S. Embassy in Ankara warned of "considerable misinformation circulating in Turkish media" regarding Washington and its allies' role in the conflict in Syria. The embassy rejected claims it created or supported ISIS or Kurdish militant groups such as the People's Protection Units (YPG) and the Kurdish Workers' Party (PKK), both of which are labeled terrorist organizations by Turkey and are active in northern Syria.
"The United States government is not supporting DAESH. The [United States government] did not create or support DAESH in the past. Assertions the United States government is supporting DAESH are not true," the embassy wrote, using the Arabic-language acronym for ISIS. "The United States government has not provided weapons or explosives to the YPG or the PKK – period. We repeatedly have condemned PKK terrorist attacks and the group’s reprehensible violence in Turkey."
The statement then went on to try to smooth out the wrinkled diplomatic ties with Turkey, saying "as we have throughout the campaign against ISIL, we continue to work closely with our counterparts in the Turkish government to determine how we can increase our efforts to defeat ISIL and eliminate this scourge that threatens both our peoples. This includes ongoing discussions about how we can best support Syrian opposition and Turkish forces engaging ISIL around al Bab."
— US Embassy Turkey (@USEmbassyTurkey) December 28, 2016
While the U.S. and Turkey have both supported various opposition forces against Syrian President Bashar Assad and his allies, including Russia and Iran, in Syria's six-year proxy war, relations have deteriorated rapidly in recent months after Turkey demanded the extradition of cleric Fethullah Gullen from Pennsylvania, whom it accuses of masterminding a fake Turkish coup over the summer. Meanwhile, Turkey has found a common language with Russia, having signed an unexpected Syrian ceasefire agreement earlier today, one which includes the Syrian rebel forces, and which may be the blueprint for future peace in the nation.
Meanwhile, although the U.S. condemns ISIS and has labeled it a terrorist organization, ISIS has received U.S. weapons through Washington-backed Syrian rebels either by warfare or surrender. The CIA is believed to have overseen a limited arming program of "moderate" opposition forces which however subsequently were revealed to be part of al-Qaeda and al-Nusra.
It is unclear if Erdogan indeed has "evidence" of US support of ISIS (perhaps courtesy of a recent anonymous shipment by Mossad), and if so, whether he is willing to disclose it for public consumption.