Turkey warns Kurds of more strikes
TURKEY has warned that it will carry out more strikes on a US-backed Kurdish militia in Syria if it fails to retreat, as Washington said President Barack Obama will meet his Turkish counterpart during the G20 summit in China over the weekend.
Turkish forces pressed on with a two-pronged operation inside Syria against Islamic State (IS) jihadists and the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), shelling over a dozen targets.
The strikes against the YPG are hugely sensitive as the outfit – seen as a terror group by Ankara – is allied with Turkey’s NATO partner the US in the fight against IS in Syria.
Ankara has said it killed 25 Kurdish “terrorists” in strikes on YPG positions on August 28 – meaning the two USbacked partners are now fighting each other.
Pentagon spokesperson Peter Cook said the clashes were “a source of deep concern as innocent people were caught in the middle”.
He called for steps to de-escalate the situation and said Washington had once again told the YPG to retreat east of the Euphrates. This has “largely occurred”, he added.
Turkey’s operation aims to push the YPG back across the Euphrates to prevent it joining up a region east of the river already under its control with a Kurdish-held area to the west.
Ankara fears the emergence of an autonomous Kurdish region in Syria would bolster Kurdish rebels across the border in southeastern Turkey.
The situation in northern Syria is yet another complication in the country’s already tangled civil war, and potentially throws a wrench in US plans to defeat the Islamic State group in the region.
Turkey considers the YPG an offshoot of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which has waged a deadly insurgency on Turkish territory for over three decades. –