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
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.

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Comment Sorting
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.

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