Kurds and Turks trade fire on Syria border

Published April 27th, 2017 - 08:00 GMT
A medical helicopter from the US-led coalition flies near the Syrian Kurdish town of Derik, April 25 2017. (AFP/Delil Souleiman)
A medical helicopter from the US-led coalition flies near the Syrian Kurdish town of Derik, April 25 2017. (AFP/Delil Souleiman)

Turkish troops and People's Protection Units [YPG] fighters exchanged artillery fire on Wednesday, as tensions descend into fighting on the Syrian border.

The fighting erupted between Kurdish YPG militants and Turkish soldiers near Darbasiyah, a border town in Syria's Hassakeh province after Ankara's bombing of a Kurdish base a day earlier.

The clashes began when YPG fighters reportedly fired on a Turkish armoured vehicle that entered Syria.

Turkey responded by firing a barrage of artillery at the YPG position, with Kurdish fighters returning fire with rockets, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

YPG spokesman Redur Xelil said Turkey had targeted several areas around Darbasiyah "with heavy artillery and mortar fire".

"There is sporadic shelling now by the Turkish army and an exchange of fire with some border outposts," Xelil told AFP.

Turkey attacked two Kurdish positions on Tuesday, hitting a local YPG military headquarters in north-east Syria and a Peshmerga position in Iraq's Sinjar Mountains.

Ankara accuses the YPG of being a "terrorist group" due to its links with the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which has been engaged in a three decade war with Turkey.

The YPG - which is part of the Washington-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) - have called on the US to implement a no-fly-zone in northern Syria, to prevent further Turkish airstrikes.

The SDF are engaged in an offensive against the Islamic State group in Syria's Raqqa province. The US have provided the Kurdish-led force with weapons, training and support from special forces.

Tuesday's strikes on the YPG position led to an angry response from the US, which is also a NATO ally of Turkey.

Ankara insists that it informed the US and Russia prior to the strike to avoid casualties from either forces which operate in the area.

Agencies contributed to this story.


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