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UPDATE: Turkey Admits Attacking Syria's Kurds

  • A YPG fighter walks near residents who had fled Tel Abyad, as they re-enter Syria from Turkey after the YPG took control of the area in Syria.

    A YPG fighter walks near residents who had fled Tel Abyad, as they re-enter Syria from Turkey after the YPG took control of the area in Syria. | Photo: Reuters

Published 27 October 2015

After months of targeting Turkey's Kurds, the Turkish government is now targeting Kurds in Syria.

The Turkish government confirmed Tuesday it attacked Syrian Kurds twice, supposedly for crossing west of the Euphrates river.

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu confirmed the attack on AHaber Television.

"We have said 'PYD will not cross west of the Euphrates, we will hit them the moment they do' and we have struck them twice," Davutoglu said, referring to the Kurdish-aligned PYD party.

Reuters reported that Davutoglu did not say the location of the attacks, but Syrian Kurds had accused Turkish forces of attacking them in two border towns over the weekend through Monday.

RELATED: As They Walk Alone, Kurds Brace for a Better Future

According Agence France-Presse Monday, the Syrian Kurdish People's Protection Units, or YPG, said in a statement, "The Turkish army targeted yesterday (Saturday), and the morning of Oct. 25, positions held by our units along the border with Tal Abyad.”

The Kurds say no casualties were reported.

Turkey's attacks on Syrian Kurds come amid heightened tensions as Turkey wages a relentless military campaign against the minority, both at home and in northern Iraq.

Turkish security forces recently began a campaign of airstrikes on Kurdistan Workers’ Party camps in northern Iraq. According to Reuters, the campaign has raised suspicions among Kurds that Ankara's real agenda is checking Kurdish territorial ambitions, rather than fighting Islamic State group.

RELATED: Kurdish Victory in Syria Forces Turkey to Take a Stance

The Turkish government accuses Syria's Kurds of allowing the Islamic State group to run amok in their autonomous region, known as Rojava. "All they want is to seize northern Syria entirely," Erdogan accused on Saturday.

He continued, "We will under no circumstances allow northern Syria to become a victim of their scheming. Because this constitutes a threat for us, and it is not possible for us as Turkey to say 'yes' to this threat."

Turkey’s position on Syria’s Kurds is in direct conflict with that of the United States, which is allied with the YPG in the fight against the Islamic State group in Syria, and also goes against the intense fights Syria's Kurds have waged against the Islamic State group.

RELATED: The Rojava Revolution and the Liberation of Kobani

In June, Kurdish fighters and their Arab rebel allies expelled Islamic State group insurgents from Tal Abyad after fierce clashes and an even in which over 100 Kurds were massacred by bomb attacks. A year ago, the world protested in solidarity with the people of Kobani as they fought against the Islamic State group.

Millions of Syrians have fled their country due to the ongoing conflict. | Photo: Reuters

RELATED: A History of the Turkish-Kurdish Conflict

Meanwhile, the Islamic State group is also continuing assaults on western and southern villages in Syria’s Kobani canton, including four heavy attacks with mortar fire on civilians Sunday night and Monday morning in which two civilians were reportedly injured.

The same day, the first scuffle between the Islamic State group and Turkish forces in a district of Diyarbakir, the capital of Turkey's Kurdish region, resulted in the death of two Turkish police officers and seven Islamic State group members, according to the state-run Anatolia news agency. The attack on the Islamic State group cell was reportedly a reaction to the Ankara bombing on Oct. 10.

RELATED: The Building Up of Fascism in Turkey

Many Kurds believe the Ankara bombing and other attacks on Kurds are in fact part of a government campaign to sow chaos ahead of repeat general elections on Nov. 1. The ruling AK party failed to form a government after the first general election, prompting another ballot. The AKP lost its majority as other parties, including the pro-Kurd HDP party, gained seats. Social instability may help the AKP gain back seats, commentators say.

RELATED: Turkish Attack on Kurds Creates Huge Backlash

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