News / Europe

Kurdish Gains in Syria Rattle Turkey

CEYLANPINAR, Turkey — Kurds in the north of Syria say they have taken control of most of the region's major towns and cities from government forces. Turkey fears the twin threats of the Syrian civil conflict spilling over the frontier along with a potential escalation of its internal war against Kurdish separatists.

Climbing up to his fourth-floor balcony, Mehmet Bervan, a Kurd from Ceylanpinar in southeast Turkey, has a frontline view of the conflict playing out in Syria. His house lies close enough to the border fence to shout at family members on the other side.

Bervan hoped this large villa would provide somewhere to live out a peaceful retirement. Week by week, he has watched the Syrian uprising descend into civil war.

"Often we would see explosions, bombs going off, smoke rising into the air. It was very scary for us here, terrible," he said.

Bervan echoes the feelings of Kurds across the Middle East.

"Of course people would like to live together. These fences were not here before. We were all one family. Then they put up the fence and it separated us all... some families are divided, we have uncles over there, brothers over there on the Syrian side," he said.

The Syrian side of this town, known as Serekanye in Kurdish or Ras al-Ayn in Arabic, is now under the full control of Kurdish forces.

With government forces stretched as they fight the Free Syria Army rebels for control of the Syrian heartlands around Aleppo and Damascus, the Kurds now control vast swathes of the northeast adjacent to Turkey.

Turkey's fear is that the Kurds in Syria will give sanctuary to Kurdish separatist fighters, known as the PKK.

Origins of the Alawi and Kurds of SyriaOrigins of the Alawi and Kurds of Syria
x
Origins of the Alawi and Kurds of Syria
Origins of the Alawi and Kurds of Syria
In recent days Turkey has launched assaults on PKK strongholds, killing at least 11 militants and six soldiers. Tanks and heavy weapons also have been deployed along the border in the Kurdish region.

Prime Minister Recip Tayyip Erdogan has warned Turkey will strike PKK fighters in Syria.

"While the Assad regime commits cruel massacres in Syria, activities in northern Syria should be watched carefully," he said. "We can never overlook such developments threatening our security."

While Syrian Kurds have not fully joined the uprising, Kurdish political factions recently agreed to unite. Hafiz Abdurahman is a Syrian Kurdish human rights activist who fled to Turkey last year. He says Turkish fears are misplaced.

"Kurds are not demanding their own state in Syria, they want a free Syria, and for a free Kurdish people to have their own rights after being under this totalitarian regime for such a long time," said Abdurahman.

In Syria, the Kurds are celebrating newfound freedoms. For Turkey, the Syrian crisis brings new complexities to a long-standing conflict.

You May Like

Beloved Lion Killing Sparks Virtual, Real Life Outrage

Twitter, as usual, was epicenter for anger directed at Palmer, with some questioning his manhood, calling for him to be released into the wild More

Video Booming London Property Market a Haven for Dirty Money

Billions of dollars from proceeds of crime, especially from Russia, being laundered through London property market, according to anti-corruption activists More

Video Scouts' Decision on Gays Meets Acceptance in Founder's Hometown

One former Scout leader thinks organization will move past political, social debate, get back to its primary focus of turning boys into good citizens More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Yavuz from: Turkey
August 11, 2012 6:25 AM
Turks and Kurds share the same rights in Turkey. Both are equal citizens and Turks never fight agains Kurds because there is broterhood relations between them. Turkey's fight is against PKK since it is a terrorist organization.

by: GeneralSherman from: USA
August 08, 2012 2:44 AM
Humana, Turks have never committed genocide. I think you have us confused with christians who are the only people who have committed genocide in history.

by: moderateGuy from: NV, USA
August 07, 2012 12:05 PM
Another option would be for Turkey to withdraw its army of occupation from "turkish" Kurdistan, and all parts of Kurdistan to form an independent country.

by: Godwin from: Nigeria
August 07, 2012 8:09 AM
Recip Tayyip Erdogan is a tyrant. That Turkey is admitted into the EU has emboldened him so much that he feels killing Kurds with impunity is the national right and pride of Turkey. Somebody must correct that impression. Erdogan must realize that Kurds have their choice of belonging and association. If he is a true European citizen, he should stop worrying the Kurds and allow them to make their choice. Turkey should not be like China that wants half of the world for its territory but cannot give them basic necessities of life. The Kurds are tired of being treated as base citizens anywhere in the Middle East.

by: Humana from: Germany
August 07, 2012 2:07 AM
the Turkies are starting another genocide... ugly chickens

by: suleyman tosun from: london
August 06, 2012 5:34 PM
Dear Editor Ilike you to know some thing beocause this kurdish issue in the west is blured and it needs to be looked into under microscope,:
1)that is who are Kurds and who is PKK and is pkk similar to al qaeda ,IRA ,ETA ?
PKK was funded and formed in Syria 1984 and regularly attacked turkey has the advantage using the border mountains to come night and attack the turkish army post this occurs every year as august is pkk aniversary of its formation.
2)how turkey as a country is governed ? pre 1959 and 2004.
2a IS Turkey frends with Kurdish Northern Iraq? Yes so much is done and mesut barzani is doing his best to cool things between Turkey and Kurds and so much is done .but PKK comes suddenly and does its work like a breeding mouse.
3)Before ottoman empire collapsed was there a kurdistan and where did Kurds live?
4)those from the west that want KURDS to have a homeland ,I like them to investigate this too: I like to quesation the western presss
A)what happened to TURKS that lived in Bulgaria, Macedonia, Albania , Greece serbia, Iraq Kurdestan , AlJazeera ,Syria ,Palestine, transjordanian empire ,Egypt ,Hejaz,Yemen ,Armenia Georgia after Ottoman empire collaped in 1914?therewas this lozan and geneve convention what happened to all that which the siignatories was france britain russia italy etc..

What I am trying to say is when the empire collapsed the western powers divded and rule method divided so many communities away from each other.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’i
X
July 29, 2015 9:34 PM
Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video 'Metal Muscles' Flex a New Bionic Hand

Artificial limbs, including the most complex of them – the human hand – are getting more life-like and useful due to constant advances in tiny hydraulic, pneumatic and electric motors called actuators. But now, as VOA’s George Putic reports, scientists in Germany say the future of the prosthetic hand may lie not in motors but in wires that can ‘remember’ their shape.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video 'Positive Atmosphere' Points Toward TPP Trade Deal in Hawaii

Talks on a major new trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations are said to be nearing completion in Hawaii. Some trade experts say the "positive atmosphere" at the discussions could mean a deal is within reach, but there is still hard bargaining to be done over many issues and products, including U.S. drugs and Japanese rice. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.
Video

Video Racially Diverse Spider-Man Takes Center Stage

Whether it’s in a comic book or on the big screen, fans have always known the man behind the Spider-Man mask as Peter Parker. But that is changing, at least in the comic book world. Marvel Comics announced that a character called Miles Morales will replace Peter Parker as Spider-Man in a new comic book series. He is half Latino, half African American, and he is quite popular among comic book fans. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Historic Symbol Is Theme of Vibrant New Show

A new exhibit in Washington is paying tribute to the American flag with a wide and eclectic selection of artwork that uses the historic symbol as its central theme. VOA’s Julie Taboh was at the DC Chamber of Commerce for the show’s opening.

VOA Blogs