Published: Sun, January 21, 2018
Worldwide | By Gretchen Simon

Kurds appeal to United Nations over Turkey threats

Kurds appeal to United Nations over Turkey threats

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has threatened to start a military operation in the northern Syrian region of Afrin, which is controlled by Kurdish-led militias, after a new border force trained by the US-led coalition was announced.

Earlier, Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdag said the U.S. is openly supporting the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) and the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) terrorist groups in Syria.

The escalation comes after the United States disclosed plans to form a 30,000-strong border force in Syria led by the Kurdish-dominated Syrian Democratic Forces in the wake of the victory over the Islamic State extremist group.

"We understand why they reacted the way they did", he said, amid Turkish preparations to launch an operation against the YPG.

In 2016, Turkey began a military campaign called Euphrates Shield Operation, which targeted ISIL and the YPG.

Turkey views the YPG as an extension of PKK, the Kurdistan Workers' Party, and described the force as a "terror army".

Additionally on Tuesday, Erdogan called on the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) to take a stance against the USA over its Syria border force plan.

But it is not believed to maintain any American forces in Afrin, an enclave that is not linked to the bulk of Kurdish-run territory in Syria.

"Security forces are internally oriented and do not pose any threat to our coalition partner and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation member, Turkey".

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Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad warned the operation would be considered a "hostile act" against the country and that Syrian army was "ready to destroy" Turkish planes in Syrian skies.

The Kurds have sought to remain neutral in Syria's almost seven-year-old war between rebels and the government.

The U.S. however has developed close ties with the YPG over the shared fight against the Islamic State group.

Cavusoglu told Turkish-language CNN Turk television news network on Thursday that Turkey would intervene in Afrin and Manbij to counter the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) militants, and that its mistrust of Washington continues.

Separately, the United States is helping build a Kurdish-led border force in another part of Syria to protect land taken from IS. The area will be cleansed of terrorist organizations.

Officials won't say whether Canada will help with the new border force in Syria - or if it even agrees with the initiative - despite repeated requests for comment.

On Wednesday, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said he met Cavusoglu to clarify the issue, and said the situation had been "misportrayed, misdescribed".

This isn't really much of a shift from the things that we've already been doing: Training, advising and assisting local partner forces on the ground.

"We are united and we want to support our people in Afrin", said Abdallah Khaled, a 40-year-old protester to AFP, in the northeastern province of Hassakeh.

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