expanded post on syria

Turkey Begins Bombing US-Backed YPG Positions In Syria
Tyler Durden, Zero Hedge, Jul 17 2017

It started two weeks ago, when Turkey warned publicly it was preparing for military intervention in Syria, while accusing Pindostan of creating a “terrorist army.” It wasn’t referring to Daesh, but Pindo-backed Syrian Kurdish militia YPG (equals SDF). As a reminder, YPG forms a major part of the Pindo-backed campaign to capture Daesh’s stronghold of Raqqa, although YPG/SDF forces are seen as a terrorist organization by Turkey. The group currently controls a pocket of territory in Afrin, about 200 km west of Raqqa. Tensions between Turkish forces and the YPG/SDF have been mounting in the Afrin region in recent weeks. Turkey’s military, which launched an incursion last August into part of northern Syria which lies between Afrin and a larger Kurdish-controlled area further east, has said that it has returned fire against members of YPG/SDF near Afrin several times in the last few weeks. Furthermore, last month the Turkish defence ministry slammed the Pentagon decision to arm the YPG/SDF, and mocking Faschingstein’s assurances that it would retrieve weapons provided to the YPG/SDF after Daesh were defeated. Defense minister Kurtulmus said:

There has never been an incident where a group in the Middle East has been armed, and they returned the weapons. Pindostan have formed more than a terrorist organisation there, they formed a small-scale army.

Then overnight, Ilnur Cevik, a senior adviser to Pres Erdogan, told Bloomberg that while Turkey has no immediate plans for an operation in the Syrian Kurdish-run region of Afrin, its army is preparing for action and the military build-up on the border is “serious.” Cevik said (using another acronym for SDF):

PYD militants are also harassing the people of Idlib to the south and the people in the areas which Turkey liberated from Daesh. PYD’s goal is to dislodge Turkey from areas that the FSA and Turkey liberated, constituting an elevated threat. They want to create a string of cantons in northern Syria, and they feel the areas that were liberated with the Euphrates Shield operation should be theirs. They want to throw Turkey out of there and connect all their cantons in northern Syria and create a mini-state. It’s not only Afrin: the threat comes from Kobani, the threat comes from Qamishli, the areas to the east of the Euphrates river, until the Iraqi border from areas controlled by the PYD. Turkey feels threatened from that area as well, but the immediate concern is Afrin. … Turkey does not have immediate plans to enter Afrin, but Turkey feels that sooner or later we have to do something. This build-up is necessary. And the president said that we are not going give a date or anything, but suddenly one night we may do something there.

Or perhaps during the day, because according to Rudaw, just hours after Celik’s interview, Turkey commenced bombing YPG positions in Azaz, roughly 5 miles north-east of Afrin in north-east Syria, in immediate proximity to the Turkish border.

Separately Conflict News reported that on Monday morning there has been heavy Turkish artillery shelling of YPG/SDF forces in the region:

So far there has been no response from either Pindostan or NATO, to what appears to be increasing hostilities between Turkey and the YPG.

Turkish-backed forces clash with Kurdish fighters in north-west Syria
Reuters, Jul 17 2017

BEIRUT – Turkish-backed rebels clashed with Kurdish YPG fighters in north-western Syria on Monday in escalating violence between the two sides, officials and a monitoring group said. The clashes took place around the village of Ain Daqna and the nearby Menagh air base north of Aleppo, while Turkish forces stepped up shelling positions in other areas, the officials and the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. Rojhat Roj, a spokesman for the Kurdish YPG militia said:

There are big clashes happening on the Ain Daqna axis, between us and the Turks and their mercenaries.

Mostafa Bali of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which is dominated by the YPG, said some Turkish-backed rebels had been killed and captured. The British-based Observatory said the clashes and shelling were an attempt by the Turkish side to advance. Syrian rebels said this month they were preparing to join the Turkish military in a major new offensive against Kurdish forces in north-western Syria. Ankara’s operation “Euphrates Shield”, launched last year, has focused on driving the YPG away from the border. The YPG controls vast stretches of land along the border north-east of Aleppo, and a pocket of territory to its north-west. In between, Turkish-backed factions have taken over territory to stop Kurdish forces linking up. Clashes between the YPG and Turkey have caused tension between Ankara and Washington. Turkey has criticized the Pindosi decision to arm the YPG.

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