Two days before that, Ankara had started shelling Daesh positions in northern Syria close to Jarabulus, as well as shelling positions of the Kurdish YPG. Turkish representatives said the shelling of Daesh-controlled areas was in response to mortar fire from Jarablus, which landed in the town of Karkamis in Gaziantep Province of Turkey.
Turkey sent 20 tanks and infantry across the border to assist the opposition Free Syrian Army (FSA) in an offensive against Daesh at Jarabulus. Turkey's Defense Minister Fikri Isik told NTV that Ankara wants to rid the area of Daesh and help the FSA to gain control, rather than Kurdish forces.
"The operation has two fundamental aims. Firstly, providing border security. Secondly, to remove the PYD-YPG’s presence in that area. Until the FSA establishes control, to remain where we are is our right. Unfortunately, there is no Syrian government authority in that area. We are, as Turkey, defending the territorial integrity of Syria. The PYD has to withdraw to the east of the Euphrates. In our talks with the American side a week ago, we were told they will do so within two weeks. They haven’t done so yet. We are watching closely," Isik said.
Turkey views the YPG as an extension of the pro-independence Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), a rebel group in Turkey which is fighting for autonomy from Ankara. However, it has not been able to dissuade its allies from cooperating with the Syrian YPG.
Earlier this month the US-backed, Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces drove out Daesh from the city of Manbij, 32km from Jarabulus. Kuloglu said that Turkey may feel compelled to push further into Syrian territory if it feels threatened by broken promises from the US about the extent of Kurdish control in northern Syria.
"The US promised Turkey that the presence of Kurdish forces in Manbij would end, and they would depart to east of the Euphrates River. If that promise is not kept, then there is a need for an operation (in Manbij). However, Free Syrian Army troops need assistance for this kind of operation, so it is inevitable that in that case Turkey will participate," Kuloglu said.
Kuloglu said that Washington has put itself in a difficult position, because while it wants to maintain cooperation with the Kurdish-led FSA in other areas of Syria, its ally Ankara is intent on weakening the Kurds.
"The US supports Turkey in the fight against Daesh, but at the same time it is telling Ankara not to clash with the Syrian Kurds. America is double-dealing."
"Perhaps there will be some temporary disagreements between Turkey and the US about the departure of Kurdish troops from the Western territory. In general, the near future will see a lot of negotiations and clashes between the parties, who are trying to protect their interests in the region."