BEIRUT / ANKARA
Turkish concerns rise as Kurdish forces cement power in northern Syria, with the nationalist MHP calling for intervention to prevent Kurdish autonomy
Security measures have been tightened in Turkey due to clashes in Syria. AA photo
Clashes between Islamist rebel forces and Kurdish fighters spread to a second Syrian province on July 20, activists said, as factional tensions rose in the north of the country.
People’s Defense Units (YPG), the militant wing of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), and al-Qaeda linked al-Nusra Front have been engaged in a fight for almost a week in the Syrian town of Ras al-Ayn, near the Turkish border town of Ceylanpınar.
The new round of fighting broke out in Tel Abyad, a border town near Turkey in the rebel-held Raqqa province. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said clashes began after Kurdish fighters in the area discovered fighters from an al Qaeda-linked rebel group trying to rig one of their bases with explosives.TSK opens fire
Meanwhile, Ceylanpınar in Şanlıurfa was also on alert. The Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) said July 21 in a written statement that they had shot back after Syria opened fire on an armored-vehicle on the Turkish side. Syria opened fire on the Turkish armored-vehicle 10 to 15 times according to the statement published on the TSK’s official website. The vehicle “retaliated by shooting back within the frame of engagement rules,” the Turkish Armed Forces said in the statement. Turkey had returned fire into Syrian territory first on June 17, after shots fired from the Syrian side killed one Turkish citizen and seriously wounded another. Second Army Commander Galip Mendi, meanwhile, headed to the southeastern provice of Hatay on July 20, where he inspected Turkey’s border with Syria in the province.
Mendi went to the area where three Turkish soldiers were injured by fire opened from the Syrian side and collected information from local authorities about the incident. He also visited the wounded soldiers, who are being treated at Antakya Hospital.