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

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

Russia’s Prosecutor General to Review Legality of Baltics Independence

Move, announced Tuesday, has alarmed Baltic States and strained even further their increasingly tense ties with Moscow More

US Urged to Keep Up Pressure on Cuba Rights

Communist government continues to hold dozens of political prisoners, tightly restricts freedom of expression, uses threats, intimidation to discourage critics, according to activist groups 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.
Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Interneti
X
Mike O'Sullivan
June 30, 2015 8:20 PM
Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Syrians Flee IS Advance in Hasaka

The Syrian government said Monday it has taken back one of several districts in Hasaka overrun by Islamic State militants. But continued fighting elsewhere in the northern city has forced thousands of civilians from their homes. In this report narrated by Bill Rodgers, VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer describes the scene in Amouda, where some of the displaced are taking refuge.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video S. Korea Christians Protest Gay Rights Festival

The U.S. Supreme Court decision mandating marriage equality nationwide has energized gay rights supporters around the world. Gay rights remain a highly contentious issue in a key U.S. ally, South Korea, where police did a deft job Sunday of preventing potential clashes between Christian protesters and gay activists. Kurt Achin reports from Seoul.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Nubians in Kenya Face Land Challenges

East Africa's ethnic Nubians have a rich cultural history that dates back thousands of years, but in Kenya they are facing hardships, including the loss of lands they have lived on for generations. They say the government has reneged on its pledge to award them title deeds for the plots. VOA's Lenny Ruvaga reports.
Video

Video Military Experts Question New Russian Tank Capabilities

Russia has been showing off its new tank design – the Armata T-14. Designers claim it is 20 years ahead of current Western designs - and driving it feels like playing a computer game. But military analysts question those assertions, and warn the cost could be too heavy a burden for Russia’s struggling economy. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.
Video

Video In Syrian Crisis, Social Media Offer Small Comforts

Za’atari, a makeshift city in Jordan, may be the only Syrian refugee camp to tweet its activities, in an effort to keep donors motivated as the war in Syria intensifies and the humanitarian crisis deepens. Inside the camp, families say mobile phone applications help hold together families that are physically torn apart. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.

VOA Blogs