Kurds ignore US vow, Turks attack

Turkish artillery shelled the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) after they advanced in violation of an accord with the United States.


Kurdish fighters in Syria
Kurdish fighters in Syria

Turkish artillery on Thursday shelled targets of the militia of the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) in northern Syria after they advanced in violation of an accord with the United States, state media said.

Turkish forces opened fire on PYD "militants" from 6:00 pm (1500 GMT) after intelligence showed they were advancing despite a promise by the US that the Kurdish militia would retreat, the state-run Anadolu agency said.

It quoted security sources as saying that the Turkish military would continue to intervene against the PYD until it began to retreat.

Turkey had on Wednesday launched a major ground incursion into Syria aimed at ousting jihadists from the border area but also preventing any advance of the Kurdish militia.

IS jihadists were rapidly ousted by pro-Ankara Syrian fighters from the border town of Jarabulus but Anadolu said that the PYD forces at the same time "resumed their movements."

It said that the PYD had seized a total of seven villages in Syria since Wednesday.

The Hurriyet daily said the PYD elements had been identified by a Turkish drone 10 kilometres (six miles) north of the Syrian town of Manbij.

The group of PYD elements was then fired on by Turkish Firtina howitzers from inside Turkey, it said. The group was "eliminated", it added, without giving further details.

Turkey sees the PYD and its People's Protection Units (YPG) militia as terror groups bent on carving out an autonomous region in Syria.

Ankara's hostility to the YPG puts it at loggerheads with its NATO ally, the United States, which works with the group on the ground in the fight against IS.

US Vice President Joe Biden, visiting Turkey on Wednesday, made clear that Washington has strictly told the YPG not to move west of the Euphrates and would no longer receive American support if they did.

But Turkish authorities have said they have seen no sign of a withdrawal.

"They (Kurdish militia) need to withdraw from the west of the Euphrates as soon as possible and stop trying to expand west of the Euphrates," said a Turkish official.