Turkish army clashes with Kurdish militias northern Syria

Turkish army clashes with Kurdish militias northern Syria
Turkish army tanks make their way toward the Syrian border town of Jarablus, Syria August 24, 2016

Kurdish militias clashed with the Turkish military in tanks on the Syrian side of the border on Saturday, a monitoring group said.

“Turkish tanks advanced today near Al-Amarneh in Aleppo province, south of the border, and clashes broke out between them and fighters backed by Kurdish forces,” Syrian Observatory for Human Rights head Rami Abdel Rahman said.

A source within northern Syria’s semi-autonomous Kurdish region confirmed the clashes between local fighters and Turkey’s army which has launched an incursion to expel jihadists from the border region.

“It’s the first such case since Turkish tanks entered into Syrian territory on Wednesday,” Abdel Rahman said.

The Turkish-backed Nour el-din el-Zinki rebel group said its fighters advanced on the village of Youssef Beik that lies southwest of Jarablus – a town they recently seized from ISIS militants – in a bid to wrestle control of the surrounding Kurdish-held territory.

The rebel group seized the village from Kurdish-affiliated forces and claimed to have captured two Kurdish fighters.

Earlier on Saturday, Turkish security sources said two F-16 jets bombed a site controlled by the Kurdish YPG militia, which is part of the broader U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces coalition. The sources also said the jets hit six ISIS targets.

Ankara’s opponents said Turkish forces had targeted YPG-allied forces but that no Kurdish forces were involved.
Saturday’s use of warplanes against what Turkey said was a Kurdish YPG militia target highlights its determination to prevent any Kurdish territorial expansion in north Syria.

Turkey on Saturday sent more tanks into Syria to bolster a military offensive against jihadists and Kurdish fighters.

The deployment resulted in Ankara-backed Syrian Arab rebels wresting the border town of Jarabulus from the Islamic State group within hours on Wednesday.

Al-Amarneh is also on the border, eight kilometres (five miles) south of Jarabulus.

Turkey’s military operation inside Syria — codenamed “Euphrates Shield” — aims to oust IS from the border region but also to counter advances by a Kurdish militia opposed by Ankara.

Turkey’s leadership has made clear that it aims to hold back the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) militia, which has led the fight against IS in northern Syria.

Ankara says the YPG has failed to stick to a promise made by its US allies that the militia would move back east across the Euphrates River.

Turkey sees the YPG and its Democratic Union Party (PYD) political wing, which have links to Kurdish rebels in southeast Turkey, as “terror groups”. Kurdish militias