19:17 GMT +308 December 2019
Listen Live
    A fighter from the Kurdish People Protection Unit (YPG) poses for a photo at sunset in the Syrian town of Ain Issi, some 50 kilometres north of Raqqa, the self-proclaimed capital of the Islamic State (IS) group during clashes between IS group jihadists and YPG fighters on July 10, 2015

    Conflict in Syria: Alliances Tested as Turkey Steps Up Kurdish Bombing

    © AFP 2019 / DELIL SOULEIMAN
    Middle East
    Get short URL
    11157
    Subscribe

    Turkish government forces have stepped up airstrikes on militant groups in northern Syria as part of Ankara's fight against terror. Along with hitting Daesh, the strikes have also reportedly targeted US-backed Kurdish forces, further highlighting the complicated nature of the Syrian conflict.

    Local media reported that Kurdish People's Protection Unit (YPG) positions were hit numerous times during the attack, while Daesh sites close to Turkey's border with Syria were also struck in the offensive.

    While Turkey's aim, according to Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, is to ensure that Daesh is "completely cleansed" from areas close to its border in northern Syria, many have questioned Turkey's continued bombing of Kurdish targets — particularly given that the Kurds are actively cooperating with Turkish allies such as the US.

    Ploy to Reduce Kurdish Influence?

    The recent Turkish airstrikes targeted the Daesh-held northern Syrian border town of Jarablus, with a land offensive of Turkish-backed Syrian rebels expected to follow.

    Some have suggested that the decision to strike the YPG, which Turkey says are linked to the banned militia group the PKK, is part of a plan to deter Kurdish forces from capitalizing on any attempt to destroy Daesh in northern Syria.

    ​While Kurdish forces currently hold large swathes of land in Syria's northeast, Turkish officials have reportedly said that the presence of Kurdish military and administrative divisions in northern Syria is a "red-line" issue, and that they would prefer Free Syrian Army (FSA) rebel groups to take control of those areas once they are liberated from Daesh. 

    ​Turkey is currently fighting a Kurdish insurgency in the country's southeast, with Ankara concerned that a strong Kurdish presence could lead to greater calls for Kurdish autonomy.

    Complicated Alliances

    As the fight against Daesh continues, the latest aerial offensive has once again highlighted the hugely complicated situation in Syria.

    While under fire from Ankara, Kurdish groups such as the YPG have been strongly backed by the US-led international coalition throughout the conflict, and have been credited with being one of the most effective groups in the fight against Daesh.

    US Troops Wearing YPG Kurdish Patches in Northern Syria
    US Troops Wearing YPG Kurdish Patches in Northern Syria

    ​Some critics of Turkey fear that attacking the Kurds could inhibit the fight against jihadist groups, with concerns that damaging both Daesh and the Kurds could lead to a dangerous power vacuum in northern Syria.

    Related:

    Thousands of Dead Terrorist Corpses Still Litter Syria, Official Tells Sputnik
    Turkey Launches Artillery Barrage on Northern Syria
    Syria Mission Complete: Russian Air Force Returns From Iran’s Hamadan Airfield
    Turkey to Expand Military Role in Syria, Says Assad May Be Part of Transition
    Tags:
    anti-Daesh coalition, airstrikes, jihadism, terrorism, Daesh, Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), Justice and Development Party (AKP), Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG), Rojava, Turkey, Syria, Middle East
    Community standardsDiscussion
    Comment via FacebookComment via Sputnik