Via Al Masdar News:
Turkey has sentenced an ex-British soldier to eight years in prison for joining the Kurdish-led People’s Protection Units (YPG) in Syria.
According to a report from the AFP News Agency, Joe Robinson, 25, was arrested by the Turkish security forces while he was on holiday inside of the country.
Robinson was accused of fighting with the YPG in Syria before he took a brief holiday in Turkey.
The British national reportedly aided the YPG in their fight against the so-called Islamic State (ISIS) in Syria.
The YPG is considered an offshoot of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and an enemy of the Turkish state.
A Turkish defense official had issued Ankara’s official position in the following statement: “The YPG is the PKK by another name and the PKK is considered a terrorist organisation not just by us but the UK as well. Of course anyone fighting with a terrorist organization will be investigated and there is a strong possibility of charges and a long sentence if he is found guilty.”
The YPG is leading the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) which has bases throughout northern and eastern Syria. The SDF was previously engaged in heavy clashes with ISIS in Raqqa city, before its liberation in 2017.
A US-led coalition spokesperson told The Independent in an earlier interview that for the United States there is a distinction between the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and the People’s Protection Units (YPG).
“We disagree with the Turkish position that the YPG and the PKK are the same organization. The Coalition recognizes the threat the PKK poses to Turkey, but Turkey cannot pursue that fight at the expense of our common fight against terrorists that threaten us all,” the Pentagon officail said, in reference to the war on ISIS jihadists.
Meanwhile, Britain has reportedly done little to seek Robinson’s release during his year of incarceration ahead of this week’s trial, to the immense frustration of his family. A Foreign Office spokesman said: “We stand ready to provide consular assistance to a British national in Turkey.”
The news comes as another Westerner is also facing terror charges in a high profile case.
Pastor Andrew Brunson, a 50-year-old evangelical pastor from Black Mountain, North Carolina was detained in 2016, and is now undergoing trail while in house arrest for charges including espionage and aiding terrorist groups after being accused of cooperating with “Kurdish terrorists” and colluding with the Gulenist Islamic movement; he faces up to 35 years in prison if found guilty. He’s been in Turkish custody for nearly two years.
Over the summer Congress voted to block the impending sale of Lockheed Martin’s advanced F-35 stealth fighter to Turkey, and tensions between the US and Turkey has been at their highest in years.
The British ex-soldier Robinson’s stiff 8-year sentence may be an indication of what’s to come for Brunson.
As President Trump has personally on multiple occasions weighed in on Pastor Brunson’s detention, any level of similar sentencing would likely unleash a storm of controversy in the US, and immense pressure on Turkey from the White House.