Turkish Media Claim Russia Helping YPG in Northern Aleppo

Turkish Media Claim Russia Helping YPG in Northern Aleppo
Tue Dec 1, 2015 17:56:18

Media outlets close to the Turkish government have accused Russia of aiding a purported Kurdish campaign to seize a swathe of territory in northern Syria, a move—which if true—would challenge Turkey’s self-declared “red lines” in the region.

 

The caustic reports come a week after Turkey shot down a Russian fighter jet that strayed over Turkish territory, after which top officials in Ankara once again began to speak of establishing a “safe zone” north of Aleppo.

Syrian activist media outlets, for their part, have also alleged that Russia was conducting raids in support of pro-Kurdish forces fighting rebel factions near the border town of Aazaz.

Sabah—a daily close to the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP)—claimed Monday that Russia was shipping weapons to a Kurdish Peoples’ Protection Units (YPG) training camp in the Kurds’ de-facto autonomous Afrin canton in western Aleppo province.

Ankara considers the YPG—which is affiliated to the separatist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in Turkey—to be a terrorist organization, and has explicitly warned that it will not allow the militia group to capture more ground in Syrian territory along Turkey’s border after the gains it made there earlier in the year.

The report in Sabah was followed by an even more dramatic one in Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency, which accused Russia of conducting airstrikes to support the YPG and its allies in the Syrian Democratic Forces, a recently created rebel group that is supported by Washington and spearheaded by Kurdish fighting units.

“Russia is providing air support for the PYD, the Syrian affiliate of the terrorist PKK organization, to allow the PYD to establish control over all territory lying between the northern Syrian towns of Aazaz and Jarablus near the border with Turkey,” the Anadolu report alleged.

Top Turkish government officials have repeatedly said they want to establish a “safe zone” in the stretch of territory between Aazaz and Jarablus, most of which is currently controlled by ISIS.

Turkey has shelled Kurdish units attempting to cross the Euphrates River to conduct raids on ISIS forces stationed around Jarablus. In effect this has enforced a “red line” between the YPG and the east of Ankara’s planned “safe zone.”

Last week, a rebel faction in the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces began military operations in the west of the area. However, at the time, the YPG strenuously denied taking part in the fighting; mmedia reported.

S/SH

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