News / Middle East

Kurds Seize Town on Syrian-Turkish Border

Members of Kurdish Popular Protection Units and Free Syrian Army fighters stand guard at a check point, Ras al-Ayn, Syria, Feb. 27, 2013.
Members of Kurdish Popular Protection Units and Free Syrian Army fighters stand guard at a check point, Ras al-Ayn, Syria, Feb. 27, 2013.
Reuters
A Syrian Kurdish party with links to Kurdish militants in Turkey has seized control of a Syrian town on the Turkish border after days of clashes with Islamist fighters, the Turkish military said.
 
The capture of Ras al-Ain by the Democratic Union Party (PYD) will heighten Ankara's fears the emergence of an autonomous Kurdish region in Syria could embolden homegrown militants of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which is fighting for autonomy in Turkey.
 
Turkey's foreign minister voiced concern at the spillover of violence from the war in its southern neighbor and called again on the United Nations Security Council, which has yet to come to a consensus over Syria, to act.
 
In a statement late on Wednesday, the military said the northeastern Syrian town of Ras al-Ain had fallen under the control of the PYD, which it described as a "separatist terrorist organization." Fighting in the town had stopped, it said.
 
Turkish troops had shot at PYD fighters in Syria in accordance with their rules of engagement, after two rocket-propelled grenades fired from Syria struck a border post on the Turkish side of the frontier.
 
The return fire was the second time in as many days the military had answered in kind. Stray bullets from Syria struck the police headquarters and several homes in the adjacent Turkish town of Ceylanpinar on Tuesday.
 
A Turkish citizen was killed and a 15-year-old boy seriously wounded by the stray fire, in the most serious spillover of violence into Turkey from Syria in weeks. Earlier officials said the boy had died of his wounds but later said he was still in a critical condition and had been moved to Ankara.
 
The military said it had strengthened security along that part of the border with armored vehicles.
 
The clashes between Kurdish fighters, who want an autonomous region within Syria, and Islamist Arab fighters from the al Qaeda-linked Nusra Front started on Tuesday after Nusra fighters attacked a Kurdish patrol, according to an anti-government Syrian activist group.
 
Clashes between Kurds affiliated with the PYD, and Syrian and foreign fighters opposed to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, have erupted since Kurds began asserting control over parts of the northeast from late last year.
 
Peace process
 
Turkey, with its own large Kurdish minority, has been watching closely, concerned a Kurdish power grab to the south could strengthen PKK militants in Turkey with whom Ankara has embarked on a peace process.
 
Developments in Syria could threaten that process, which is already under pressure amid an increase in militant activity in Turkey.
 
Turkey's main pro-Kurdish party, the BDP, on Wednesday criticized Ankara's Syria policy and said it worked against peace efforts with Turkey's Kurds.
 
Nihat Ali Ozcan, an expert on the PKK and security at the Economic Policy Research Foundation of Turkey (TEPAV) think-tank, said the events in Syria would likely embolden the PKK.
 
"Firstly, there will be a psychological effect, and as the PKK watches these developments they will make more maximalist demands from the government. They will sit down to negotiations with the government as a much stronger actor," Ozcan said.
 
"The PKK has gained an important resource in the area, it has gained depth and will also make economic gains. This is good news for the PKK," he said.
 
Speaking in Ankara on Wednesday, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu expressed concern over the events along the border.
 
"This illustrates a striking picture of how much the crisis in Syria can affect us and our citizens," state-run broadcaster TRT quoted Davutoglu as saying.
 
"Once again we call upon the international community ... if the U.N. Security Council is to do the job it is required to do, then the moment is now," he said.
 
Turkey, one of Assad's most vocal critics and biggest backers of the Syrian rebels, has criticized the U.N. Security Council for failing to adopt a united stance on the conflict.
 
Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan was expected to meet President Abdullah Gul and the military's Chief of General Staff Necdet Ozel on Thursday and the latest developments in Syria were likely to feature high on the agenda.
 
Turkey, which has the second-largest army in NATO, is reluctant to act unilaterally in Syria although it has scrambled warplanes along the border as gunfire and shelling hit its soil. Turkey hosts around 500,000 Syrian refugees.

You May Like

Taliban's New Leader Says Jihad Will Continue

Top US Afghan diplomat also meets with Pakistani, Afghan officials following news of Mullah Omar's death More

Video US Landmark Pushes Endangered Species

People gathered in streets, on rooftops in Manhattan to see image highlights that covered 33 floors of Empire State Building More

World’s Widest Suspension Bridge Being Built Over Bosphorus

Once built, Yavuz Sultan Selim Bridge will span 2 kilometers with about 1.5 kilometers over water, and will be longest suspension bridge in world carrying rail system More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missionsi
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
George Putic
July 30, 2015 8:59 PM
Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
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.

VOA Blogs