Turkey Accused of Killing at Least 35 Civilians in Syria

Cheryl Sanders
August 30, 2016

A Turkish soldier was killed by a Kurdish rocket attack late Saturday. The group claimed to have captured two Kurdish fighters.

The militants fled the town without putting up a fight. They have also moved west towards Islamic State areas.

Ankara views the PYD and the militia affiliated with it, which forms the backbone of the USA -backed Syria Democratic Forces, or SDF, as an extension of the Kurdish insurgency that is raging in southeastern Turkey.

Turkish officials say their goal in Syria is as much about ensuring Kurdish forces do not expand the territory they already control along Turkey's border as it is about driving the Islamic State group from its strongholds. Images of doctors treating other children for their burns were posted on social media sites.

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At least 20 civilians were killed and 50 others injured in Turkish air strikes and artillery fire in Syria on Sunday (28 August), the fifth day of the offensive against Islamic State (Isis) and Kurdish forces, a monitor group said. It was unclear whether the Turks and the monitoring group were referring to the same incident.

The borderlands region has been controlled by militias aligned to the Kurdish-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

The SDF, which is spearheaded by the YPG, a Syrian Kurdish militia, has been lauded by both Russian Federation and the West as one of the most effective forces fighting Isis, and has received extensive United States support.

Anadolu said pro-Ankara fighters - backed by Turkish troops and firepower - had now taken five more villages from IS after the capture of Jarabulus.

Ankara wants to force the Kurds to withdraw to the east of Euphrates River, stopping short of establishing a corridor to link two Kurdish-held areas in northwestern Syria, the BBC said.

Turkey's coming into conflict with the YPG or their Arab allies could further complicate its military campaign, the BBC said.

A Kurdish-affiliated group said their forces were the target and called the attack an "unprecedented and unsafe escalation".

The sources did not give further details on the air strikes.

Turkey said the dead were Kurdish YPG militants.

After Kurdish-led forces this month seized Minbij in northern Syria from Islamic State, the last major town on the border under the extremists' control was Jarabulus, and a race developed between Turkey and the Kurds over its control. Turkey's incursion last week pre-empted the Kurds from seizing the town.

In a statement Saturday, Kurdish forces accused Ankara of seeking to "expand its occupation" inside Syria. That, Turkey fears, could embolden Kurdish PKK militants on its own soil who have been a waging a three-decade-long armed struggle for cultural and political rights and self-determination.

Turkish security sources said warplanes and artillery had hit Kurdish YPG militia sites south of frontier town of Jarablus and towards Manbij, a city captured by Kurdish-aligned SDF this month in a USA -backed operation.

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