YPG hits Turkish post in Syria ahead of key summit
Syrian Kurdish militants on Nov. 20 launched a mortar attack targeting observation points set up by the Turkish Armed Forces in Syria’s Idlib, just ahead of a scheduled key summit in the Russian resort of Sochi to discuss the Syrian conflict.
The People’s Protection Units (YPG), considered by Ankara as an offshoot of the outlawed Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK) and therefore a terrorist group, launched five mortar attacks near the Daret Izzet observation point on the Idlib-Afrin line, with one hitting close to the observation point and the others reportedly hitting surrounding areas, state-run Anadolu Agency has reported.
There were no immediate reports of casualties or injuries.
Turkish military units reportedly retaliated to the attack.
The attack comes days before Turkish, Russian and Iranian leaders are set to meet in Sochi on Nov. 22 to discuss the ongoing de-escalation zones in Syria and cease-fire opportunities. The meeting will be the first such summit between the three countries as they cooperate with increasing intensity on ending the more than the six-year civil war in Syria.
The trilateral meeting is expected to also discuss an upcoming Syrian national dialogue congress, which Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov previously said that it would be held around the beginning of December again in Sochi.
Moscow invited all Syrian opposition forces to attend the planned congress, but Turkey has fiercely opposed the invitation of the YPG.
Although Turkey is not against a Syrian national dialogue congress, “there is no place for a terrorist organization among the opposition,” Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu had previously said.
Turkey’s stance regarding this issue is also expected to be brought forward by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in Sochi on Nov. 22.
On Nov. 20, after a weekly cabinet meeting, Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdağ said in relation to the Syrian conflict, “No one has the right to expect from us to consent to a terror organization’s presence at the table. Turkey’s stance on this issue is clear.”
Çavuşoğlu held a meeting on Nov. 19 with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif in Turkey’s southern province of Antalya.
“We have gathered to discuss certain issues related to preparations for the summit of the three countries’ presidents, which is due in Sochi on Nov. 22,” Lavrov was quoted as saying by the Russian news agency TASS.
“The work was very useful, we have reached an agreement on all the key issues,” Lavrov said after the meeting, while Çavuşoğlu stressed that the issue of the YPG is a “primary sensitivity” of Turkey.
Çavuşoğlu said Turkey rejects the participation of the YPG in “any meeting” that seeks a solution in Syria, adding that both Russia and Iran are aware of this.