News / Europe

    Turkey to Extend Strikes on US-Allied Kurdish Fighters in Syria

    VOA News

    Turkey says it will continue to target U.S.-allied Kurdish fighters on the Syrian frontier near its border, despite mounting international pressure on the Ankara government to stop the artillery bombardments.

    Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, in telephone talks Sunday, told German Chancellor Angela Merkel that Turkish forces will "not permit" the Kurdish People's Protection Units fighters (YPG), of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) "to carry out aggressive acts."

    Both France and the United States have called for an "immediate halt" to the Turkish bombardments.

    FILE - Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) fighters take up positions inside a damaged building in al-Vilat al-Homor neighborhood in Hasaka city, Syria.
    FILE - Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) fighters take up positions inside a damaged building in al-Vilat al-Homor neighborhood in Hasaka city, Syria.

    YPG fighters, backed by the West and Gulf countries, have been battling for more than a week against a ferocious Russian-backed offensive by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces.

    However, the Ankara government sees the YPG as linked to an offshoot of Turkey's outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party, the PKK, and considers both groups terrorist organizations.

    Davutoğlu earlier confirmed artillery strikes overnight Saturday and demanded the withdrawal of YPG fighters from the Syrian border town of Azaz. Ankara also demanded the Kurds vacate a nearby airbase seized last week from Syrian rebel forces.

    Rebel commanders say YPG fighters are now in parts of Azaz, just six kilometers from the border with Turkey.

    The Turkish shelling continued Sunday, with new fighting reported around the strategically important town of Tell Rifaat between Syrian rebels, Syrian government forces and Kurdish fighters. Amidst the shelling, the YPG claimed to have captured the village of Ayn Daqnah, east of Menagh and south of Azaz.

    According to Turkish military officials, the shelling of YPG positions came in retaliation for Kurdish gunfire, and was focused just southwest of Azaz. Rami Abdel Rahman, of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a monitoring group, said Turkish shelling struck wider afield, targeting YPG positions near Menagh, the airbase the Kurds took from Syrian rebels.

    Later Sunday, Saudi Arabia confirmed it had sent aircraft to the NATO air base at Incirlik in Adana, near the Syrian border in southern Turkey, to step up operations against the Islamic State group in Syria.

    Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Çavuşoğlu had said Saturday that no decision had yet been made on a ground force against IS, which analysts say could dangerously widen the multi-factioned conflict and raise the specter of a Turkish clash with the Russians.

    Smoke billows from a fire at the southeastern town of Nusaybin, Turkey, near the border with Syria, where Turkish security forces are battling militants linked to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers, Party or PKK, Sunday, Feb. 14, 2016.
    Smoke billows from a fire at the southeastern town of Nusaybin, Turkey, near the border with Syria, where Turkish security forces are battling militants linked to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers, Party or PKK, Sunday, Feb. 14, 2016.

    Meantime, the Syrian regime has condemned Turkey's shelling of PYD-held areas inside Syrian territory, describing it as an attempt to raise the morale of "terrorist" groups.

    According to Turkish officials, Davutoğlu spoke this weekend with U.S. Vice President Joe Biden concerning Turkish anger about YPG military encroachments in northern Syria, adding that Biden had said he would pass the Turkish Prime Minister’s remarks on to the “relevant parties.”

    U.S. officials say there is little to be done to counter militarily the Russian-backed Assad offensive and they argue the vicious five-year-long Syrian civil war that has left upwards of 250,000 dead won’t be resolved by the clash of arms but through a negotiated political settlement.

    Watch: Helicopter Drop Barrel Bombs over Daraya, Syria

    Watch: Helicopter Drops Barrel Bombs Over Daraya, Syriai
    X
    February 14, 2016 7:56 PM
    Heavy fighting continued across rebel-held suburbs of the Syrian capital, Damascus, on Sunday. Citizen journalists provided this video to the Associate Press, which authenticated it with regional experts and checked it against independent reporting.

    Jamie Dettmer from Gaziantep, Turkey, and Lou Lorscheider from Washington contributed to this report

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    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Anonymous
    February 15, 2016 1:28 PM
    Turkey will eventually bring down a stray Russian fighter in their airspace and Russia will pound Turkish defensive positions. It will be a bad day for Russia and Turkey, but a good day for the Kurds. Both Russia and Turkey need a bloody nose. They've managed to dish it out, we'll see if they can take it too. I seriously doubt they can and will run crying to the UN.

    by: Anonymous
    February 15, 2016 12:26 PM
    A guide on who is who in Syria:

    The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights: A Single Sunni refugee in London, biased against the Syrian Government.

    FSA, Nusra Front, Turkmen Brigades: b.s names, used by the western media to avoid using AQ, since all these groups are AQ.

    AQ in Syria is also called "moderate rebels", "opposition".

    The AQ (opposition) in the negotiations table, is misleadingly called High Negotiations Committee (HNC), where in fact it is a collection of AQ groups supported by Saudi Arabia and Turkey.

    The Kurds are not invited to negotiations, because Turkey opposed the Kurds presence in the negotiations.

    The Syrian Government, Russia, Iran, Hezbollah and The Kurds: Fighting ISIS and AQ, not just ISIS, but ISIS and AQ (above-mentioned groups).

    Saudi Arabia and Turkey: support ISIS and AQ (the above-mentioned AQ groups and several more).

    The west, NATO and especially Britain and part of the US including presidential candidate Clinton: support Saudi Arabia and Turkey.

    AQ in Syria are mostly foreign Chechens, Uzbeks, Tajiks, Tunisians, Saudis and Turks, imported by Turkey via Turkey into Syria.

    by: Sensi
    February 15, 2016 3:03 AM
    No sure why VOA is censoring comments debunking its misleading propaganda claiming that the YPG would be "battling for more than a week against a ferocious Russian-backed offensive by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces" (sic)...

    "The Kurdish YPG militia, helped by Russian air raids, seized an ex-military air base at Menagh last week, angering Turkey" (Reuters)

    by: Sensi
    February 15, 2016 12:47 AM
    "The Kurdish YPG militia, helped by Russian air raids, seized an ex-military air base at Menagh last week" (Reuters)

    "U.S. Kurdish [YPG] allies welcome Russian airstrikes in Syria" (mcclatchydc)

    Compare these reported facts to the propagandist/misleading nonsense of this article claiming the YPG is fighting either the Russians (their allies) or the Syrian government (de facto neutral)... You just have to search for YPD+Russia to see how the author of this piece doesn't have a clue at all on what s/he is (mis)reporting, there publishing blatant counter-truths...

    by: Ed Miller
    February 14, 2016 11:29 PM
    They promptly be kicked out of NATO. It may not stop them but it would a least make them think more about what they are doing!

    by: Good guy
    February 14, 2016 9:11 PM
    Turkey out of nato forces

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