Turkey Strikes U.S.-Backed Kurds After Erdogan’s ‘Final Warning’
(Bloomberg) -- Turkey fired on U.S.-backed Syrian Kurdish militants in northern Syria on Sunday, moving ahead with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s vow to rout them from his country’s southern border.
Turkish howitzers targeted positions held by the YPG fighters on the eastern flank of the Euphrates River that splits northern Syria roughly into eastern and western halves, state-run Anadolu news agency said. Turkey had earlier pushed out the American allies from most of the border areas to the west of the river, seeing them as an extension of PKK separatists it’s battled for decades at home.
Sunday’s shelling, albeit limited in scope, threatens to increase tensions between Ankara and Washington, which backed the Kurdish fighters because it saw them as best equipped to drive Islamic State fighters from Syria. The attack on YPG came just two days after Erdogan accused the U.S. of stalling on a June agreement to push the group away from the town of Manbij on the western flank of the Euphrates, and said he was warning Kurdish fighters for the last time to retreat.
Read more on Turkey’s most recent call on Syrian Kurds: Erdogan Issues ‘Final Warning’ to Kurds on Eve of Syria Summit
Erdogan issued that warning a day before hosting German, French and Russian leaders in Istanbul in the search for a negotiated end to Syria’s seven-year civil war. A communique released at the end of the meeting called for a continuation of international efforts to fight terrorist organizations in Syria, without including the Kurds in that grouping as Ankara does.
The quartet did, however, reject separatist agendas aimed at undermining Syria’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, which Turkey has accused YPG of doing in pursuit of an independent state.
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