News / Middle East

    US Urges Restraint from Turkey, Kurdish Militia Near Aleppo

    Displaced Syrians fleeing areas in the northern embattled province of Aleppo sit under a truck at the Bab al-Salama camp, set up outside the Syrian city of Azaz on Syria's northern border with Turkey, Feb. 12, 2016.
    Displaced Syrians fleeing areas in the northern embattled province of Aleppo sit under a truck at the Bab al-Salama camp, set up outside the Syrian city of Azaz on Syria's northern border with Turkey, Feb. 12, 2016.
    VOA News

    The U.S. State Department voiced fresh concern Saturday over reports of Turkish military strikes on Kurdish militia in northern Syria, urging both Turkey and Syrian Kurds to exercise restraint as tensions approach the breaking point in the troubled region.

    Spokesman John Kirby, in a statement, urged both sides to step back, saying they should instead focus on defeating Islamic State extremists who occupy large swaths of northern Syria.

    Earlier, Turkey's military shelled Kurdish militia targets north of the embattled city of Aleppo. That bombardment came just hours after Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu warned that Ankara would act if it faced a threat from across the border.

    The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which monitors Syria's war, said the shelling had targeted the air base and a village captured from insurgents by the YPG militia.

    Turkey considers the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) and its YPG militia to be branches of the Kurdistan Workers Party, (PKK) which has waged a decades-long insurgency against the country.

    A Kurdish official confirmed shelling had taken place at the Menagh air base, which he said had been captured by the Kurdish-allied Jaysh al-Thuwwar group rather than the YPG. Both are part of the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces alliance.

    The shelling took place amid growing anger in Ankara with U.S. backing for the PYD in its fight against Islamic State militants.

    The PYD is in control of most of the Syrian side of Turkey's border, and nearby bases in Iraq's Qandil Mountains have been bombed repeatedly by the Turkish military.

    Speaking Saturday in Erzincan, in eastern Turkey, Davutoglu said, "When there is any threat to Turkey, we will take in Syria the measures that we took in Iraq and in Qandil and will not hesitate to implement the necessary measures."

    Rising refugee numbers

    Turkey has been concerned by the tens of thousands of people fleeing to the Turkish border after attacks by Russian-backed Syrian government forces, increasing refugee numbers in the area to 100,000.

    Turkey, which already hosts 2.6 million Syrian refugees, has kept the latest arrivals on the Syrian side of the border, in part to pressure Russia to stop its air support for Syrian government forces near Aleppo.

    Davutoglu condemned the attacks in Aleppo as "barbarity, tyranny, a war strategy conducted with a medieval mentality," and said hundreds of thousands of people in the region faced starvation if a humanitarian corridor was not opened.

    "We will help our brothers in Aleppo with all means at our disposal. We will take those in need, but we will never allow Aleppo to be emptied through an ethnic massacre," he said.

    Foreign Affairs Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, quoted in Turkish newspapers, said Riyadh and Ankara were coordinating plans to intervene in Syria, where Russia has been backing a successful regime offensive against rebels.

    "If there is a strategy [against the Islamic State jihadist group], then Turkey and Saudi Arabia could enter into a ground operation," he said.

    Cavusoglu said Saudi Arabia was also sending planes to the Turkish base of Incirlik, a key hub for U.S.-led coalition operations against IS already used by Britain, France and the United States for cross-border air raids.

    World powers on Friday announced an ambitious plan to stop fighting in Syria within a week, but doubts have emerged about its viability, especially because it did not include the Islamic State militant group or al-Qaida's local branch, which is fighting alongside other rebel groups in several areas.

    You May Like

    US Leaders Who Served in Vietnam War Look Back and Ahead

    In New York Times opinion piece, Secretary of State John Kerry, Senator John McCain and former Senator Bob Kerrey say as US strengthens relations with Vietnam, it is important to remember lessons learned from war

    Who Are US Allies in Fight Against Islamic State?

    There is little but opportunism keeping coalition together analysts warn — SDFs Arab militias are not united even among themselves, frequently squabble and don’t share Kurds' vision for post-Assad Syria

    Learning Foreign Language Helps US Soldiers Bridge Culture Gap

    Effective interaction with local populations part of everyday curriculum at Monterey, California, Defense Language Institute

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    by: Alex from: HK
    February 14, 2016 10:42 AM
    Kurds fight ISIS - Turkey bombs them.
    Russia fights ISIS and the rebels - Turkey shoots their planes down. But has yet hard problems to find and bomb ISIS strongholds just across the border.

    Try to see the whole chessboard. ISIS are the wild dogs of Turkey. Just like Hezbollah are the errand boys of Iran. The Turks use ISIS to get rid of all the opposition in the Middle East and pave the way for their islamic caliphate. You think that all these ISIS terrorists came from the Mediterranean with Paradise Cruise boats? No. Turkey ran all the ISIS fighters through Turkey to Syria and then supported them financially and with weapons. Erdogan has always dreamt of re-creating the Neo-ottoman Empire and ISIS will help him do that. The new islamofascist Turkey and ISIS are not that different.

    p.s. Kick Turkey out of NATO. It is not worth going to war for this islamofascist country based on genocide on Greeks, Armenians and Kurds.

    by: shadow
    February 14, 2016 6:44 AM
    There is a war near turkey the world,no country only watch a war near its border.if your neighbor home has a fire, it is probably to fire your home.therefore turkey should strongly act every movement who is trying convert this war into turkey.kurds are trying to use this conflict to take territory for their dream of kurdish state.but I have to say that it is not possible now or future.They always have acted against turkey and arab world who are main dominant actor in middle east.for example,north ıraq kurds are better off because of their strategy comply with turkey.terrorist organization PKK and its branch YPG, have to stop their activity against turkey if they want to change their destiny.Turkey is strong and brother of kurds.aggresion from syrian kurds to turkey via YPG does not serve building their future happly.they have to understand this.

    by: Anonymous
    February 14, 2016 12:52 AM
    Turkey will bring about the end of NATO...

    by: Bill Blinky from: South of the Equator
    February 13, 2016 7:14 PM
    To most people living in the West, Turkey bombing any Kurds sounds incredibly stupid. Turkey is well known for it's tolerance towards Isil and seems to have been funding it through oil, slaves and artifacts. How the EU can consider Turkey for membership is puzzling. Especially when most of Turkey is in Asia.
    The Kurds would be well advised to treat USA with caution. They completely failed to support the Kurds who rose up against Saddam Hussein, and will drop them like a hot potato if it doesn't suit them. To me, Russia appears to be a natural fit for the Kurds, and both could enjoy a happy partnership.

    by: drac
    February 13, 2016 4:59 PM
    Even during ww2 when the Kurds rose up against the brits they never pushed into Sunni historical territory in Iraq or syria.

    I think they are being goaded by America into this new attitude with verbal promises.

    But as with the fsa in Syria America will abandon them when other factors arise...Kurds might be well to consider Turkey a NATO member consideration more than current administration promises in America

    In can all change come Nov 7th
    In Response

    by: John Macassey from: New Zealand
    February 13, 2016 7:53 PM
    Turkey is a strong supporter of Al-Nusra Front from whom Kurdish forces captured the air base. Turkey is also the main purchaser of ISIS oil. To be honest, Turkey is fast becoming a big problem for US/NATO.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnami
    Elizabeth Lee
    May 22, 2016 6:04 AM
    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.

    Video Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnam

    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.

    Video First-generation, Afghan-American Student Sets Sights on Basketball Glory

    Their parents are immigrants to the United States. They are kids who live between two worlds -- their parents' homeland and the U.S. For many of them, they feel most "American" at school. It can be tricky balancing both worlds. In this report, produced by Beth Mendelson, Arash Arabasadi tells us about one Afghan-American student who seems to be coping -- one shot at a time.

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    While universities across the United States honor their newest graduates this Friday, many immigrants in downtown Manhattan are celebrating, too. One hundred of them, representing 31 countries across four continents, graduated as U.S. citizens, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in New York and cities around the country.

    Video Vietnam Sees Strong Economic Growth Despite Incomplete Reforms

    Vietnam has transformed its communist economy to become one of the world's fastest-growing nations. While the reforms are incomplete, multinational corporations see a profitable future in Vietnam and have made major investments -- as VOA's Jim Randle reports.

    Video Qatar Denies World Cup Corruption

    The head of Qatar’s organizing committee for the 2022 World Cup insists his country's bid to host the soccer tournament was completely clean, despite the corruption scandals that have rocked the sport’s governing body, FIFA. Hassan Al-Thawadi also said new laws would offer protection to migrants working on World Cup construction projects. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.

    Video Infrastructure Funding Puts Cambodia on Front Line of International Politics

    When leaders of the world’s seven most developed economies meet in Japan next week, demands for infrastructure investment world wide will be high on the agenda. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push for “quality infrastructure investment” throughout Asia has been widely viewed as a counter to the rise of Chinese investment flooding into region.

    Video Democrats Fear Party Unity a Casualty in Clinton-Sanders Battle

    Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton claimed a narrow victory in Tuesday's Kentucky primary even as rival Bernie Sanders won in Oregon. Tensions between the two campaigns are rising, prompting fears that the party will have a difficult time unifying to face the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.

    Video Portrait of a Transgender Marriage: Husband and Wife Navigate New Roles

    As controversy continues in North Carolina over the use of public bathrooms by transgender individuals, personal struggles with gender identity that were once secret are now coming to light. VOA’s Tina Trinh explored the ramifications for one couple as part of trans.formation, a series of stories on transgender issues.

    Video Amerikan Hero Flips Stereotype of Middle Eastern Character

    An Iranian American comedian is hoping to connect with American audiences through a film that inverts some of Hollywood's stereotypes about Middle Eastern characters. Sama Dizayee reports.

    Video Budding Young Inventors Tackle City's Problems with 3-D Printing

    Every city has problems, and local officials and politicians are often frustrated by their inability to solve them. But surprising solutions can come from unexpected places. Students in Baltimore. Maryland, took up the challenge to solve problems they identified in their city, and came up with projects and products to make a difference. VOA's June Soh has more on a digital fabrication competition primarily focused on 3-D design and printing. Carol Pearson narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora