Turkey has acknowledged attacking a Kurdish militia group that has been a U.S. ally in the fight against ISIS, saying fighters had crossed into an off-limits area in Syria. Turkey also says it has attacked ISIS within its own borders.
The attacks underscore the complications the U.S. and its allies face when forming a strategy against the extremist ISIS terrorist group in an area where regional and sectarian conflicts continue to play out.
Discussing Turkey’s role in the region and its two strikes on the Kurdish Democratic Union Party, or PYD, in Syria, Turkey’s prime minister said, “Turkey has not laid all of its cards on the table yet. The picture will be different when it does so. Everyone should watch its steps,” according to Hurriyet Daily News.
From Istanbul, NPR’s Peter Kenyon reports:
“Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu told Turkish television that Ankara had warned the Syrian Kurds known as the PYD that they should not cross west of the Euphrates River — and after the group did so, Turkish jets struck twice at PYD targets.
“U.S. officials have supported the Kurdish efforts to battle ISIS in northern Syria, though it has tried to be sensitive to Turkish concerns about the group, which has ties to Kurdish militants in Turkey who are considered terrorists by both Ankara and Washington.
“Turkey is worried that Syrian Kurds will expand and consolidate their area of control near Turkey’s border while fighting ISIS.”
News of the attacks, which reportedly took place Sunday, comes months after a ceasefire between Turkey and the Kurdistan Worker’s Party, or PKK, unraveled — and just a week before Turkey’s national elections.
In recent days, Turkish police and military forces have engaged in a shootout with suspected ISIS fighters and carried out raids against ISIS cells in at least two cities, according to the BBC. This morning, Turkey said it had detained 30 suspected ISIS militants.
Sounding an ominous note, Reuters reports:
“Turkey, a NATO ally and candidate for EU membership, risks sliding into the sort of ethnic and sectarian strife that has torn Iraq and Syria to its south. In the view of some alarmed analysts, Turkey is starting to resemble its neighbors.”