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.

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    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.

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