Erdogan: Turkey will fight Kurdish militias in Syria

Cheryl Sanders
September 1, 2016

The move came after a Turkish soldier was killed and three were injured Saturday in a PYD rocket attack in northern Syria.

One of the villages to change hands was Amarneh, where clashes erupted for the first time between Turkish forces backed by tanks and pro-Kurdish fighters on Saturday. Turkey considers the PYD and its People's Protection Units (YPG) militia to be terror organisations, even though they are backed by Ankara's ally the United States as effective anti-jihadist fighting forces in Syria.

Ankara says the YPG has broken a promise made to the USA to go back across the Euphrates River after advancing westwards earlier this month.

Earlier reports said the village of Jub al-Kousa, located almost nine miles south of Jarabulus and controlled by fighters backed by Kurdish forces, had also suffered fatalities.

Asked how long he expected the Turkey-backed rebel forces to advance to Manbij and take it, Osman said "a few days, God willing". Any action against Kurdish forces in Syria puts Turkey at odds with its North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ally the United States.

Two separate blasts in the Turkey's Kurdish-dominated southeast killed one Turkish soldier and wounded eight others, and Kurdish militants launched a rocket-propelled grenade at a civilian airport, officials and the state-run news agency said.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said at least 20 civilians were killed and 50 had been wounded in Turkish artillery fire and air strikes in the village of Jeb el-Kussa, south of Jarabulus, an area controlled by militias allied to the Kurdish-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

Backed by Turkish tanks and reports of airstrikes, Turkey-allied Syrian rebels clashed with Kurdish-led forces in northeastern Syria in a new escalation that further complicates the already protracted Syrian conflict. Turkey is a leading backer of the rebels fighting to overthrow Syrian President Bashar Assad, but both Ankara and Damascus share concerns over Kurdish ambitions for autonomy.

The clashes underscore the complexity of the US -led worldwide coalition campaign to reverse Islamic State's territorial hold in Syria and the dangers faced in that mission. The rockets were fired from an area where the YPG militia were known to be active, and the Russian-made weapons are typical of those used by YPG militants.

Turkey says the Kurds must withdraw to the east of the nearby Euphrates River. The YPG insists those areas are part of their own terriritoty, and there's no way it will pull out. What is clear, though, is that its SDF allies have not.

Shervan Derwish, a spokesman for a Kurdish-aligned military council in Manbij, said Sunday that the "battles are still ongoing".

Also on Sunday, Twitter accounts belonging to Turkish-backed Syrian rebel groups claimed to have "liberated" a village called Amarnah, near Jarablus, from the US -backed SDF.

The PKK has been blamed for several recent attacks in Turkey, including a blast Friday in southeastern Turkey that killed 11 police officers.

Other reports by iNewsToday