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MIDEAST >Turkey ‘targets PYD, not Kurds’ in Syria

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Turkey is targeting “terror organizations” like the Democratic Union Party (PYD) and not Syrian Kurds in its intervention in Syria, a senior Turkish official said, adding that the Turkish military’s offensive would continue until “all threats to Turkish citizens” eradicated from the whole region.

“The Euphrates Shield Operation is against the presence of the DAESH [Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant - ISIL] and other terror organizations with an objective of clearing Jarablus and its southern parts [of terrorists]. We strongly condemn efforts to present this operation as being against Syrian Kurds and their achievements,” İbrahim Kalın, the spokesperson and chief foreign policy adviser to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, told reporters. 

“Turkey has no problem with the Syrian Kurds. Turkey has no problems with Kurds in Turkey, Kurds in Iraq, Kurds in Iran and Kurds in the region or in any part of the world,” he said.


Turkey’s problem is the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and its Syria offshoot, the PYD, Kalın said, recalling that it was Erdoğan who first advised Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to issue identification cards to Syrian Kurds in the late 2000s.  

“At a moment when no anybody was talking about Syrian Kurds, our president advised the al-Assad regime to grant rights, issue identification cards and to invest to the region. That was much before the beginning of the Arab Spring,” he said. 

Kalın’s statement came as a Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) operation into northern Iraq along with the Free Syrian Army (FSA) marked its first week following the seizure of Jarablus, which was abandoned by ISIL. 


New target is western town of al-Bab

While TSK-backed FSA forces are now advancing toward the northwestern Syrian town of al-Bab, a regional stronghold of ISIL, Turkish tanks and artilleries have approached Manbij, a key city that was recently liberated from the ISIL by PYD forces. 

The United States assured Turkey that PYD forces would move to the eastern shore of the Euphrates after the conclusion of the Manbij operation after the TSK warned the Syrian Kurds that it would target its positions in the event it did not retreat in line with Ankara’s dictates.

“It’s been more than two weeks now. We are in the third week [since the Manbij operation] but they demand more time. What we have been told was that the withdrawal will take place as soon as this operation was to start,” he said. 

Instead of withdrawal, the PYD forces began to advance toward Jarablus, the spokesperson said, accusing the group of trying to create a de facto situation by occupying the entire region. “We don’t talk about deadlines. We want a withdrawal as soon as possible,” he added. 


Turkey ready to provide aid to Aleppo

Drawing attention to the ongoing humanitarian tragedy in Aleppo and international efforts to halt clashes for a certain time to provide humanitarian aid to the civilians in the town, Kalın said Turkey was supporting calls for a cease-fire in the region.

“Turkey will deliver humanitarian aid to Aleppo in the event that a corridor into the town is opened after the cease-fire,” Kalın said.  


Three soldiers wounded in rocket-hit tank 

Meanwhile, three Turkish soldiers were wounded on Aug. 30 when a rocket fired from the west of Syria’s Jarablus region hit a tank in northern Syria, the Turkish General Staff has announced.

One of the wounded soldiers was a lieutenant colonel from the special forces conducting the Euphrates Shield Operation. The wounded soldiers were transferred to hospitals in Gaziantep near the border by helicopter, the statement said.

The tank was slightly damaged in the attack.

The military also announced in a second statement that a “group of terrorists” who staged a rocket attack on the tank were killed and their vehicles destroyed.

Pro-ISIL media sites said the jihadist group had attacked the tanks.

Turkish artillery units also shelled targets west of Jarablus following the attack.

Security forces’ operations in the region are continuing.

August/31/2016

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