Published: Thu, May 11, 2017
Worldwide | By Gretchen Simon

Turkey moves military convoy close to Syria border


Turkey has always been annoyed by US support for the YPG militia, seen by the Pentagon as a reliable partner in Syria but by Ankara as a hostile force linked to Kurdish PKK militants who have waged a three-decade insurgency against the Turkish state.

While stressing the importance of investigating the motives behind this visit, Celik outlined that the cooperation between U.S. forces and Kurdish members in Syria is unacceptable to Turkey and might bring tension to Ankara-Washington ties.

The U.S. has provided air cover and other support to Kurdish forces battling the Islamic State group in Syria and Iraq.

Syrian activists said the attacks, on Sinjar Mountain in northern Iraq and a mountainous region in Syria, killed at least 18 members of the Syrian Kurdish militia known as the People's Protection Units, or YPG, which are at the center of bitter divisions between the two North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies.

Video from northern Syria showed the US patrols alongside Kurds flying the People's Protection Units flag.

Turkey's airstrikes killed 40 Kurdish fighters in Iraq and 30 in Syria.

To cement the alliance between Turkey and the KRG, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan met with Kurdish Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani to express his lament for the slain Peshmerga on Friday.

"We can come unexpectedly in the night", said Erdogan.

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"The border is among the areas where they operate", Davis also said, adding that the U.S. wants Kurdish militia, including the Kurdish-dominated alliance of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), to focus on the liberation of the eastern Syrian city of Raqqa, Islamic State's self-proclaimed capital in Syria, and "not to be drawn into conflicts elsewhere". "We are here", Erdogan said at an energy conference in Istanbul.

We review the key developments in Syria, including Turkey's renewed threats against USA allies, an important strategic advance against ISIS by the SDF and the Pentagon's report into civilian deaths caused by coalition airstrikes.

Ankara says the fighters of the YPG are merely the Syrian branch of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), who have waged an insurgency since 1984 inside Turkey that has left tens of thousands dead. "This is a message from the United States to Turkey to stop attacking the YPG, since they fear this could threaten the anti-ISIS Raqqa operation", he added. Less than 48 hours ago, clashes between Kurdish groups and Turkish Army units were reported in the Tell Abyad area, also in Syrian territory and where Ankara troops burst in since August 2016.

The Turkish military launched air strikes against targets in the three self-governing cantons of Rojava this week, and have followed up with artillery and tank assaults.

Social media users shared images and video of tanks flying American flags driving the streets Qamishli, a Kurdish-majority town in the north of Syria, and being cheered by local citizens.

The YPG forms the backbone of the USA -backed Syria Democratic Forces.

"We hope that this military mobilisation is not meant to provoke our forces or for another goal linked to entering Syrian territories".

"Now the Americans face the delicate task of trying to answer some of the concerns of the Turkish government, while at the same time maintaining the YPG as a key component in the fight against ISIL", Ahelbarra said.

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