United States troops patrolling Turkish-Syrian border
- Author: Leroy Wright May 11, 2017,
May 11, 2017, 17:51
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Sunday threatened to strike Kurdish militants in Iraq and Syria, as the US -backed forces in Syria closed in on the last neighborhoods of a former stronghold of the Islamic State extremist group.
Turkish forces last week carried out deadly air strikes on military positions belonging to the Syrian Kurdish Peoples' Protection Units (YPG), angering the United States and sparking days of border clashes with the Kurdish fighters.
He said USA forces will also deploy as a separation force in areas where the Turkish-backed Syrian fighting forces and the Kurdish forces meet.
In Syria, it is working with the Syrian Democratic Forces, dominated by the Kurdish People's Protection Units, or YPG, but also includes Arab fighters.
"This needs to be stopped right now", said Erdogan. The move comes as final preparations are underway to take out Islamic State in Raqqa and could damage efforts to push the terror organization out of its most important stronghold in Syria.
The US-YPG cooperation began under the Obama administration, and while Mr Trump said he would rethink the relationship when he took office, little has changed.
More U.S. troops were seen Saturday in armored vehicles in Syria in Kurdish areas.
U.S. North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ally Turkey views the YPG and other PKK-affiliated groups as terrorists.
Forty terrorists were killed at Iraq's Mt. Sinjar, and another 49 at Syria's Mt. Karacok in April 25 airstrikes by Turkish forces against the PKK and the PYD and YPG. Kurdish officials described US troop movements as a "buffer" between them and Turkey.
In an article published on Monday, May 1, The Guardian's Martin Chulov has weighed in on the ever-closer ties between the United States and Kurds, which, according to the author, stoke Turkish border tensions. "We can turn up abruptly one night", he said, repeating a line from a well-known Turkish song.
A Kurdish activist in the area, Mustafa Bali, said the deployment is ongoing, adding that it stretches from the Iraqi border to areas past Darbasiyah in the largely Kurdish part of eastern Syria.
He is expected to raise the issue when he meets with US President Donald Trump next month.
Three of the attacks were carried out from territory held by the US -backed Kurdish YPG militia, while the other originated from a region under the control of the Syrian government.
The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) is a multi-ethnic coalition and it is leading the fight against ISIS as it prepares to attack Raqqa. Once agaiin, however, there was no report of any Turkish military casualties in the attacks. The base is 50 kilometers (30 miles) from Syria's Tal Abyad, a town controlled by the Kurdish militia. (Press Presidency Press Service via AP, Pool) Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, centre, stands as he listens to the national anthem, prior of delivering a speech at a conference in Istanbul, Saturday, April 29, 2017. Despite historical ethnic tensions, the Kurdish-led SDF was able to recruit so many Sunni Arabs that a top US commander estimates that 60% of the fighters are Arab and 40% are Kurds.
"We hope that this military mobilization is not meant to provoke our forces or for another goal linked to entering Syrian territories".
Turkey remains adamantly opposed to Kurdish militia playing a role in the Raqqa campaign, and have instead floated the idea of Turkish-backed Syrian rebel forces joining the fight to liberate Raqqa.