Turkish army, Kurdish militia exchange fire across Syria border

Nick Mcbride
May 6, 2017

Following a Turkish operation in northern Syria, US commanders visited the area accompanied by the so-called spokesman of the PKK's Syrian affiliate the People's Protection Units (YPG), Redur Xelil and senior PKK terrorist Abdi Ferhan Sahin, which is on the Turkish Interior Ministry's list of most wanted terrorists, with a bounty of four million liras.

With less than an hour's notice to the U.S. -led coalition, Turkey, a U.S. North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ally, conducted airstrikes in northern Syria on Monday night, killing "a significant number" of Kurdish YPG fighters, who have been "very important to the fight against ISIS", Air Force Col. John Dorrian, the spokesperson for Operation Inherent Resolve, told reporters at the Pentagon on Wednesday.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, who has long said Ankara would not allow Iraq's Sinjar to become a PKK base, said all partners were informed ahead of the operation.

The US, however, backs the YPG as a key component of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) which have been closing in on the Daesh bastion of Raqqa.

So it was an unsafe way to conduct operations. Dorrian, spokesman for the US operations against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, said the USA troops were about six miles, or 10 kilometers, from the strikes.

Ankara accuses the YPG of being a "terrorist group" due to its links with the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which has been engaged in a three decade war with Turkey.

"We consider such actions unacceptable and going against the founding principles of global relations", it said, calling "all sides to show restraint" and focus on fighting terrorism. But a senior US official said it was about 20 minutes. He described the Turkish warning "as a notification, as opposed to coordination" with a trusted ally.

Dorrian said Turkey gave the US less than an hour's notice, and declined to be more specific.

"We acknowledge that there are PKK in some areas of Iraq and northern Syria", Dorrian told reporters.

There have been other incidents when Turkey has conducted strikes, often with similar notice, and the USA will make sure to detail where American forces are within the potential strike zone so they are not hurt. We believe that every force that's fighting terrorism in Iraq should be doing so in coordination and with the agreement and cooperation of the government of Iraq. The seizure of the dam will complete the envelopment of Raqqa city by the SDF and the Syrian Arab Coalition before the final assault on Raqqa commences. We haven't seen them threaten Turkey at all.

Other reports by VgToday

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