Turkish soldier killed in Syria attack, Kurdish militia blamed

Cheryl Sanders
September 1, 2016

Turkish warplanes attacked a group allied with the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), after Turkey earlier this week launched an offensive into northern Syria against Kurds and Islamic State forces.

The rocket fire on Saturday came from members of the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD).

The Observatory said the bombardment targeted an area south of the former Islamic State group stronghold of Jarabulus, which Turkish-led forces captured on the first day of the incursion. But it also is aimed at US -allied Kurdish forces that have gained control in recent months of most of the territory along the Turkey-Syria border.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the bombing killed at least 20 civilians and four Kurdish-led fighters in Beir Khoussa, a village about nine miles (15 kilometers) south of Jarablus, and another 15 in a village to the west.

The YPG says its forces have withdrawn from the area and their presence could not be used as a pretext for an attack. He said 50 Turkish tanks were taking part.

The shelling apparently aimed at undermining the Kurdish-led Jarablus Military Council, which fought against the Turkish forces in Jarablus countryside a day earlier, destroying three Turkish tanks. But following the Turkish offensive, local forces with Kurdish fighters and backed by YPG advisers pushed their way north of Manbij, in a rush for control of Jarablus.

According to Turkish news agencies, a soldier was killed and 3 others were injured after a rocket fired by Kurdish rebels hit their tank. Turkish forces had responded with artillery, it said.

Speaking on condition of anonymity due to restrictions on talking to the media, a military official said Russian-made Kornet anti-tank missiles were launched at two Turkish tanks in the northern Syrian city, which was freed from DAESH on Wednesday evening.

In Syria's northwest, fighting continued to rage between Syrian government forces and rebels in the battered city of Aleppo, in spite of tentative plans for a 48-hour ceasefire.

The clashes underscore the complexity of the US-led global coalition campaign to reverse IS's territorial hold in Syria and the dangers faced in that mission, the WSJ said.

Ankara considers the YPG a "terrorist" group and has fiercely opposed its bid to expand into areas recaptured from ISIS to create a contiguous autonomous zone.

It adds complexity to the Syrian conflict that erupted five years ago with an uprising against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and has since drawn in regional states and world powers.

Turkey has suffered shock waves from the conflict raging in its southern neighbor, including bombings by Islamic State. Turkey has frequently been targeted in attacks by Islamic State.

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