General Mazloum Kobani Abdi, the Commander-in-Chief of the Syrian Democratic Forces, said in a January 12, 2020 interview on Ten TV (Egypt) that Turkey had been working with ISIS until 2014 and that it prevented the U.S. Air Force and coalition air forces from using NATO bases in Turkey to help the Kurds fight ISIS. He also said that Turkey enabled foreign ISIS fighters to land in Turkish airports and cross into Syrian territory. In addition, General Abdi said that Turkey decided to join the anti-ISIS coalition in 2016 when it saw the tides turning against ISIS, and that it used this as a pretext to occupy Syrian territories. He added that Turkey had directed ISIS suicide bombings in Kurdish territories and given financial aid to ISIS and families of its members.
Following are excerpts:
General Mazloum Abdi: Until the Battle of Kobani [in 2014], Turkey had been coordinating with ISIS. Turkey refused to allow the NATO bases in its territory to be used to fight ISIS. The American and coalition planes that were helping our forces were coming from Kuwait because Turkey refused to allow the use of its bases.
In addition, they officially told us… Back then, we met with Turkish officials in Kobani, and even in Turkey itself…
Interviewer: So there was coordination?
General Mazloum Abdi: We had contact with them. They officially told us that they do not want to confront ISIS. [They said:] “We don’t want you to be the reason for a dispute between ISIS and us.” They said this to the representatives of the People’s Protection Units [YPG] in Kobani and in other meetings.
Their main goal was to destroy the YPG. It was [Turkey] that encouraged ISIS to attack Kobani. To be more precise, [Turkey] determined that ISIS must occupy Kobani, and the Jazira Region as a whole, if it wanted to maintain the relations and the [Turkish] support.
Interviewer: They wanted [ISIS] to get rid of the YPG.
General Mazloum Abdi: [It also promised to allow ISIS] to continue to use the Turkish border and to let [foreign] fighters who were coming through Turkey [to enter Syria]. Every ISIS foreign fighter, without exception, came through Istanbul Airport and the other Turkish airports and crossed the Syrian border into this region.
In the summer of 2016, Turkey decided to join the anti-ISIS coalition forces… When they saw that the scales were tipping towards the defeat of ISIS… Then it allowed the coalition to use Incirlik and other bases to fight ISIS, and it occupied Syrian territory under the pretext of fighting ISIS.
Turkey would ask ISIS to carry out major suicide bombings in this area, and in return, it would allow ISIS to use its borders and facilitate [ISIS] affairs in Turkey. ISIS asked Turkey for financial aid, and for help with the families of ISIS members who were there… ISIS asked Turkey to allow the families that fled Baghouz and other areas to cross the border into Turkey. ISIS also had conditions…