The Turkish military claims it has fired back at US-backed Kurdish militia after they targeted the anti-Damascus militants it supports in Syria.
It said on Wednesday that the Turkish forces had retaliated with artillery fire and destroyed targets belonging to the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) overnight.
The Kurds had earlier opened fire on the Turkey-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA) militants in the Maranaz area south of the town of Azaz in northern Syria.
Turkey considers the YPG to be associated with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) militants, who have been leading a decades-long deadly war against Ankara in quest for an independent Kurdish state in southeastern Turkey.
The country has invaded Syria without Damascus’ approval to drive the YPG back from its borders.
Turkey has also locked horns with the United States, which supports the Kurds against the Takfiri Daesh terror group, pressing Washington to stop its arms support for the fighters.
A member of the anti-terror Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) receives medical care at a field clinic run by the YPG in the Syrian village of Raqa Samra, east of Daesh’s bastion of Raqa in northern Syria, June 21, 2017. (Photo by AFP)
The United States supports the YPG in the fight against Daesh in Syria, despite repeated protests from NATO ally Turkey, which sees the Syrian Kurdish fighters as terrorists and fears their advance will inflame Kurdish militancy at home.
James Mattis, the US secretary of defense, addressed Ankara’s concerns in the area, saying Washington would take back all the weapons provided to the Kurds once Raqqah is liberated.
Daesh named Raqqah as its so-called headquarters in Syria in 2014, when it started its terror campaign against the Arab country.
His Turkish counterpart Fikri Isik reacted by saying Ankara wanted a “joint mechanism” with Washington to ensure full reclamation of the weapons.