News / Middle East

Turkey Alarmed at Syrian Border Fighting

FILE - Turkey's Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu FILE - Turkey's Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu
FILE - Turkey's Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu
FILE - Turkey's Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu
Dorian Jones
Turkey's foreign minister has voiced concern over the spillover of violence from the war in neighboring Syria and called again on the United Nations Security Council to act. The latest alarm stems from fighting near the border between Syrian Kurds and Islamist fighters of the al-Nusra Front. A pro-Kurdish party in Turkey says Ankara's support for Islamist rebels in Syria is a factor in the violence.

Turkey's pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party has accused the Turkish government of supporting the al-Nusra Front, an Islamist faction among the rebels battling to topple Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

The party's accusation follows the eruption of fighting between al-Nusra fighters and Syrian Kurds of the Kurdish Democratic Union Party, or PYD. Ankara says stray gunfire from that fighting killed two of its citizens in the Turkish border town of Ceylanpinar Tuesday.

Ertugrul Kurkcu, a parliamentary deputy for the BDP, suggests Turkey might have involvement behind the violence in the adjacent Syrian town of Ras al-Ain.

"It's obvious Turkey would be happy for a weaker Kurdish administration in Syria, therefore I think there is a tactical infringement in this new phase of clashes in [the] Syrian Kurdish area," Kurkcu said.

The PYD factor

The PYD controls a large swath of northeastern Syria bordering Turkey, after Syrian government forces withdrew last year. Ankara accuses the Syrian Kurdish party of being affiliated with the PKK, which has fought the Turkish state for greater Kurdish rights for three decades, although the two sides are now involved in tentative peace efforts.

Political observers say Turkish suspicions of the PYD have been heightened by a recent declaration that it was planning to declare autonomy in the areas of Syria it controls.  However a senior Turkish diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity, denied that Ankara was supporting al-Nusra and said the only support Turkey is giving is to the broad opposition Syrian National Coalition.

Diplomatic columnist Semih Idiz for the Turkish newspaper Taraf says such a denial is questionable, especially in the light of the latest clashes.

"Ankara made a statement saying it's premature to criticize this group [al-Nusra]. It suggested this group was one of the most effective groups, so it's not unlikely they might be getting support. Now whether this support is in the form of weapons that I don't know, but it could be logistic support," Idiz said. "There are already rumors that fighters in this latest incident were brought into hospitals in Turkey. In fact the locals reacted angrily to this."

Turkish forces have strengthened their presence on the Syrian border near where the fighting was taking place.

Call for intervention

Late Wednesday, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu voiced alarm at the situation and reiterated his call for international intervention. He said it shows the extent to which the crisis in Syria can affect Turkish citizens and Turkey, and that this is the moment for the U.N. Security Council to act.

But observers say any intervention by the U.N. is unlikely.

Sinan Ulgen, head of the Istanbul-based research institute Edam, says the clashes between al-Nusra and the Syrian Kurds could get worse.

"It can certainly unravel in a more significant way, essentially because there is a power vacuum and there is no willingness from the outside actors to intervene and to establish limits," Ulgen said. "There is a definitively a scenario where we would see these kind of situations unfolding in a bigger way."

The Turkish government is said to be trying to come up with a new strategy to face the prospect of growing border instability stemming from the Syrian conflict. But analysts caution that because of Turkey's own large and restive Kurdish minority, any policy aimed at the Syrian Kurds will likely have domestic implications.

You May Like

Guatemala Mudslide Death Toll Rises to 86

Death toll is expected to continue to rise as emergency crews dig through tons of earth for an estimated 350 people still missing More

Goodbye Pocahontas: Photos Reveal Today's Real Native Americans

Weary of stereotypes, photographer Matika Wilbur is determined to reshape the public's perception of her people More

Debris Found in Search for Missing Ship

Objects located Sunday have not yet been confirmed to be from the 240 meter container ship, El Faro, which disappeared in the eye of Hurricane Joaquin, according to US Coast Guard More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europei
Luis Ramirez
October 02, 2015 4:45 PM
European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europe

European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video First Self-Driving Truck Debuts on European Highways

The first automated semi-trailer truck started its maiden voyage Friday, Oct. 2, on a European highway. The Daimler truck called 'Actros' is the first potentially mass-produced truck whose driver will be required only to monitor the situation, similar to the role of an airline captain while the plane is in autopilot mode. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Migrant Influx Costs Europe, But Economy Could Benefit

The influx of hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants is testing Europe’s ability to respond – especially in the poorer Balkan states. But some analysts argue that Europe will benefit by welcoming the huge numbers of young people – many of them well educated and willing to work. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

Video New Fabric Helps Fight Dust-Related Allergies

Many people around the world suffer from dust-related allergies, caused mainly by tiny mites that live in bed linen. Polish scientists report they have successfully tested a fabric that is impenetrable to the microscopic creatures. VOA’s George Putic has more.

Video Burkina Faso's Economy Deeply Affected by Political Turmoil

Political turmoil in Burkina Faso over the past year has taken a toll on the economy. The transitional government is reporting nearly $70 million in losses in the ten days that followed a short-lived coup by members of the presidential guard earlier this month. The crisis shut businesses and workers went on strike. With elections on the horizon, Emilie Iob reports on what a return to political stability can do for the country's economic recovery.

Video Fleeing Violence, Some Syrians Find Refuge in Irbil

As Syrians continue to flee their country’s unrest to seek new lives in safer places, VOA Persian Service reporter Shepol Abbassi visited Irbil, where a number Syrians have taken refuge. During the religious holidy of Eid al-Adha, the city largely shut down, as temperatures soared. Amy Katz narrates his report.

Video Nigeria’s Wecyclers Work for Reusable Future in Lagos

The streets and lagoons of Africa's largest city - Lagos, Nigeria - are often clogged with trash, almost none of which gets recycled. One company is trying to change that. Chris Stein reports for VOA from Lagos.

Video Sketch Artist Helps Catch Criminals, Gives a Face to Deceased

Police often face the problem of trying to find a crime suspect based on general descriptions that could fit hundreds of people in the vicinity of the crime. In these cases, an artist can use information from witnesses to sketch a likeness that police can show the public via newspapers and television. But, as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, such sketches can also help bring back faces of the dead.

Video Thailand Set to Build China-like Internet Firewall

Thai authorities are planning to tighten control over the Internet, creating a single international access point so they can better monitor content. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Bangkok on what is being called Thailand’s own "Great Firewall."

Video Croatian Town’s War History Evokes Empathy for Migrants

As thousands of Afghanistan, Iraqi and Syrian migrants pass through Croatia, locals are reminded of their own experiences with war and refugees in the 1990s. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from the town of Vukovar, where wartime scars still are visible today.

Video Long Drought Affecting California’s Sequoias

California is suffering under a historic four-year drought and scientists say even the state's famed sequoia trees are feeling the pain. The National Park Service has started detailed research to see how it can help the oldest living things on earth survive. VOA’s George Putic reports.

VOA Blogs