Turkey’s armed forces fired artillery shells into northern Syria on Sunday, October 28, with state media saying the shelling targeted positions held by the People’s Protection Units (YPG).
The howitzer shells targeted trenches and positions built by the predominantly Kurdish YPG east of the Euphrates river in the Kobani region of northern Syria, Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency reported.
The area reportedly targeted, Zor Magar in Turkish, Zour Maghar in Arabic or Zormixar in Kurdish, is near the border with Turkey, around 2 km (1.2 miles) east of Jarablus, the main administrative center in the area of Syria controlled by Turkey and Turkey-backed Syrian opposition fighters.
— انتصار (@_Caki__) October 28, 2018
ANHA news agency, which is close to the YPG, reported that the shelling began around 10:30 a.m., and “several shells” landed in or near two villages in the area. According to ANHA, no casualties were reported but some houses were damaged.
In a later statement, the YPG said one member of the HXP – the Self-Defense Forces of the Democratic Federation of Northern Syria – was wounded and subsequently died.
“These attacks were conducted without any reason and aim to create new conflicts in the region,” the YPG said, adding that “there was no any attack conducted from our side” against Turkey’s borders and that “no attack against the northern Syrian territory will be left unanswered and that in this sense we have the right to defend ourselves by any means necessary.”
The strikes come a day after Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan hosted a summit in Istanbul on the Syrian conflict with the leaders of Russia, France and Germany, in which they adopted a joint statement committing to work “together in order to create conditions for peace and stability in Syria.”
Erdogan has repeatedly threatened to launch a new offensive in Syria east of the Euphrates to take territory held by the self-declared Democratic Federation of Northern Syria as far as the Iraq border in the east.
On Friday he said he was giving a “final warning” to those who endanger Turkey’s borders.`
“Instead of idling around in Manbij, we are determined to turn our focus and energy to the east of the Euphrates,” he said, Bloomberg reported. “We are carrying out studies in line with our own operation plans and signs of them will soon be visible in the field. This should be regarded as our final warning.”
On Sunday, Turkey’s Defense Minister Hulusi Akar again warned those who may oppose Turkey in the region.
“The formation of any entity that threatens our unity and integrity, the creation of a terror corridor near our borders … or any step in the region contrary to Turkey will never be allowed,” Akar said.
Turkey has launched two offensives west of the Euphrates since 2016. Operation Euphrates Shield captured from Islamic State territory to the west of the river and prevented the SDF from expanding territory it had captured from the jihadists around Manbij.
Operation Olive Branch, launched in January, expanded this territory, capturing the majority-Kurdish Efrin enclave further east from the YPG. There was no ISIS presence in Efrin.
The YPG is considered by the Turkish government to be inextricably linked to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has waged a decades-long insurgency in Turkey, and is designated as a terror group by Turkey and its Western allies.
But the YPG is not a proscribed organization in the United Kingdom, United States or European Union and it is a key component of the U.S.-led Coalition-backed Syrian Democratic Forces alliance which is waging a successful campaign against ISIS in Syria.
Washington’s support of the YPG remains a major point of contention between the U.S. and Turkey, NATO allies who have seen relations deteriorate over the last two years.
With reporting from AFP