Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said that “both Russia and the United States have a responsibility” for the rise in cross-border attacks for failing to “keep their promises” to ensure the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia withdraw from the Syrian border area.
By Erin Viner
Ankara has been infuriated by the deaths of 2 Turkish policemen on Sunday in northern Syria’s Azaz region by a guided missile attack launched from the Tal Rifaat region by the YPG, which Turkey says is a terrorist group. On Monday, shells believed to have been fired from a YPG-controlled area further east exploded in Turkey’s southern Gaziantep province and the Jarablus area in the Karkamis District allegedly launched from a region controlled by the YPG. Local sources reported that 4 people were killed and 6 others wounded during a car bomb attack in northern Syrian city of Afrin.
Azaz and Jarablus have controlled by Turkish-backed rebels since Ankara’s first incursion into Syria in 2016 aimed at pushing back YPG and Islamic State (ISIS) terrorists from its border with Syria. Turkey now controls swathes of territory in north Syria with its allied insurgents following two additional cross-border offensives since that time, including one mission against the YPG in the Afrin District, which is part of the Aleppo Governorate.
Ankara has been infuriated by the American support for the Syrian Kurdish “Yekîneyên Parastina Gel” (YPG), which translates into English as The People’s “Defense” or “Protection” Units; and has demanded its NATO ally ceases its backing.
Turkey ceased its military offensives in northeast Syria after separate agreements with the US and Syrian-patron Russia that included a YPG withdrawal to 30 kilometers south of the shared border. Ankara has accused both Washington and Moscow of failure to keep its promises due to what it says have been repeated violations of the YPG condition.
Çavuşoğlu’s fury echoed earlier statements by the country’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who on Monday said, “The latest attack on our police and the harassment that targets our soil are the final straw.”
Following a cabinet meeting Erdoğan said at a news conference that, “We have no patience left regarding some regions in Syria which have the quality of being the source of attacks on our country,” underscoring, “We are determined to eliminate the threats originating from here either with the active forces there or by our own means.”
The State Department released a statement on Tuesday condemning cross-border attacks from Syria against Turkey.
In other regional developments, Syria has accused the Israeli Air Force (IAF) of overnight strikes on Palmyra near the city of Homs that killed 1 soldier and wounded 3 others. The attack was reportedly launched from the direction of the Al-Tanf area that caused some “material damage” at a communications tower and other nearby targets according to the state-controlled Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA).