Syrian Kurds accuse Turkey of attacking their forces

Kurdish militia forces in Syria have accused Turkey of attacking them.

The Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) say Turkish tanks shelled their units near Kobane in northern Syria.

Turkey said it was investigating the claim but insisted that its forces were not targeting Syrian Kurds.

Turkey, which had previously not been involved in fighting in Syria, launched raids on Islamic State fighters there as well as Kurdish PKK militants in Iraq, following attacks in Turkey.

Turkey has battled PKK insurgents on its own territory in a conflict that has killed about 40,000 people since 1984. It says it has no plans to send ground troops into Syria.

The YPG said its forces had been shelled in the Kurdish-held village of Zormikhar, west of Kobane, on Sunday evening.

It added that, an hour later, one of its vehicles had come “under heavy fire from the Turkish military east of Kobane in the village of Til Findire”.

If the claims are true, this will complicate matters for the coalition against IS as Western powers are co-operating with Syrian Kurds against the jihadists, says the BBC’s Mark Lowen in Athens.

In a statement on Monday, the YPG said: “Instead of targeting IS terrorists’ occupied positions, Turkish forces attack our defenders’ positions. We urge [the] Turkish leadership to halt this aggression and to follow international guidelines.”
A Turkish government official said its military operations sought “to neutralise imminent threats to Turkey’s regional security” and were targeting IS in Syria and the Kurdish separatist PKK in Iraq.

“We are investigating claims that the Turkish military engaged positions held by forces other than [IS],” the official said.

Kurdish forces within Syria, he added, remain “outside the scope of the current military effort”.

‘Turmoil and instability’

The Hurriyet Daily News quoted Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu as saying that Turkey’s willingness to “use its force effectively can lead to consequences which can change the game in Syria, Iraq and the entire region”.

The US and Turkey are reported to have agreed to work together to remove IS from the Syrian-Turkish border area.

The agreement includes a plan to drive the militants from a 68-mile (109km) stretch west of the Euphrates River, according to the Washington Post.

Such a deal would significantly increase the scope of the US-led air war against IS in northern Syria, the paper says.
An unnamed US official told AFP news agency that the aim of the reported deal was “to ensure greater security and stability” along the border.

Nato is to hold an emergency meeting on Tuesday to discuss the situation.

Turkey asked for the meeting based on Article 4 of the organisation’s treaty, which allows members to request such a summit if their territorial integrity or security is threatened.

“I think it’s very right and very timely to have a meeting where we address the turmoil and the instability we see in Syria, Iraq and surrounding and close to Nato borders of Turkey,” Nato Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told the BBC on Sunday.

Meanwhile the YPG took control of Sarin, a town about 40km (23 miles) south of Kobane that had been held by IS, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based group, said on Monday.

Mr Davutoglu said Turkey was prepared to work with the main Syrian Kurdish party – which has links to the PKK (Kurdistan Workers’ Party) – provided it did not pose a threat to Turkey.

However, the recent raids against the PKK in northern Iraq effectively ended a two-year ceasefire.

READ ALSO:  MoH signed $4m contract for the supply of 26 ambulances but weren't delivered - Auditor-General


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here