News / Middle East

    US-Turkish Tensions Escalate Over Syrian Kurds

    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.
    Dorian Jones

    Turkey shelled Kurdish forces advancing in northern Syrian for a fourth day Tuesday, despite calls from Western allies to stop. Damascus has also condemned Turkey's military actions in Aleppo, calling the shelling a violation of Syria's sovereignty and asking the U.N. Security Council to step in.

    Ankara, however, appears determined to continue targeting Kurdish YPG militia.

    Russia is set to raise the issue Tuesday with the U.N. — a move dismissed by Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu.

    "What an attitude!" he said, adding that Russia is bombing hospitals and schools, and then turning around and referring Turkey to the Security Council to address border security.

    FILE - Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet DavutogluFILE - Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu
    FILE - Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu
    FILE - Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu

    The Turkish prime minister also repeated his threat against the Syrian Kurds.

    "We will do what is necessary if they continue to advance," he warned.

    The YPG militia is moving ahead with its westward advance to link up with a Syrian Kurdish canton.

    A senior Turkish official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the shelling is in retaliation for attacks by the Syrian Kurdish group. However, the official could not give any photographic evidence of the attacks, or say when and where they occurred.

    Ankara accuses the YPG of being an extension of the PKK rebel group that is operating inside Turkey.  Kadri Gursel, a political columnist for the Al-Monitor website, said Ankara is becoming isolated from its allies over their support of the YPG and its political wing, the PYD.

    "The West, in general, sees the PYD as a reliable ally in the fight on ISIS,” Gursel said, using an acronym for Islamic State. “Ankara seeing the PYD as more of a threat than ISIS is a very, very problematic outlook; this is a totally upside-down approach."

    ‘Them or us’

    Ankara's relations with Washington, which has conducted airstrikes in support of the YPG, are becoming particularly strained. Turkish officials say U.S. weapons given to the Syrian Kurds have ended up in PKK hands. Washington denies arming the YPG.

    Late last month, the U.S. State Department official coordinating the global effort against Islamic State, Brett McGurk, traveled to the Syrian town of Kobani, where he met with PYD and YPG members.  Following that meeting, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Washington must choose between Turkey and the PYD as its partner.

    Still, the dispute over the Syrian Kurds is unlikely to lead to a complete rupture between the U.S. and Turkey, said international relations expert Soli Ozel.

    "The Turkish challenge — it's either them or us — and the American response — it's both of you and we will continue with the PYD — under normal circumstances would create a severe diplomatic crisis,” Ozel said. “But Turkey does need the United States, and [on] the issue of the PYD, it's quite evident the U.S. will not change its ways and Turkey will not change its ways."

    Pro-government media in Turkey are calling for U.S. forces to be barred from using Turkish air bases for its airstrikes against Islamic State. So far, however, Ankara has resisted calls for any sanctions against Washington.

    You May Like

    US Lawmakers Vow to Continue Immigrant Program for Afghan Interpreters

    Congressional inaction threatens funding for effort which began in 2008 and has allowed more than 20,000 interpreters, their family members to immigrate to US

    Brexit's Impact on Russia Stirs Concern

    Some analysts see Brexit aiding Putin's plans to destabilize European politics; others note that an economically unstable Europe is not in Moscow's interests

    US to Train Cambodian Government on Combating Cybercrime

    Concerns raised over drafting of law, as critics fear cybercrime regulations could be used to restrict freedom of expression and stifle political dissent

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    by: Re
    February 17, 2016 3:51 PM
    What can you expect from a developing country as Turkey?一A third-world government trying to dominate the ME. What a big mistake to have let Turkey into NATO. Because of this, I've become a staunch admirer of President Putin. Can you trust Obama or Hillary..?

    by: Moses608 from: Kenya
    February 17, 2016 5:57 AM
    In this one particular case you can't trust Turkey.Turkey should not be at war with that KURDS at this crucial moment.

    by: Igor from: Russia
    February 17, 2016 4:48 AM
    Turkey is only exploiting NATO and the US to serve its dirty goals. It is an irresponsible member of NATO. Turkey may drag NATO to destruction one day with its mad ambition.

    by: Anonymous
    February 17, 2016 1:07 AM
    Turkey = ISIS

    Turkey is supporting ISIS and AQ in Syria and Iraq.

    Of course, Turkey is becoming an increasingly unreliable partner for its allies, and it's getting worse day by day.

    Turkey is not a US ally anymore, Turkey is providing ideological and monetary help to ISIS and AQ.

    Even the notation of "same interests but not allies" is ridiculous about Turkey now. Not only Turkey is not a US ally, Turkey's interests are not the same as the US anymore.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roari
    June 28, 2016 10:33 AM
    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.

    Video Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roar

    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.

    Video Melting Pot of Immigrants Working to Restore US Capitol Dome

    The American Iron Works company is one of the firms working to renovate the iconic U.S. Capitol Dome. The company employs immigrants of many different cultural and national backgrounds. VOA’s Arman Tarjimanyan has more.

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.

    Video New York Pride March A Celebration of Life, Mourning of Loss

    At this year’s march in New York marking the end of pride week, a record-breaking crowd of LGBT activists and allies marched down Manhattan's Fifth Avenue, in what will be long remembered as a powerful display of solidarity and remembrance for the 49 victims killed two weeks ago in an Orlando gay nightclub.

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora