Published: Mon, January 22, 2018
Global News | By Stacy Ballard

Turkish police use pepper spray against pro-Kurdish protesters

Turkish police use pepper spray against pro-Kurdish protesters

The YPG, linked to Turkey's Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), has been a key U.S. ally in the war against the Islamic State group, helping to drive the jihadists from swathes of Syrian territory including their stronghold Raqa. The operation targeting Kurdish fighters could open up a new frontier in the Syrian conflict, which has gone on for almost seven years.

Turkey has long fought Kurdish unrest in the southeastern part of the country.

The YPG is the driving force behind a coalition of north Syrian forces allied with the U.S.to battle the Islamic State group.

Badran Ciya Kurd, an adviser to the Kurdish administration in northern Syria who meets regularly with Russian and USA officials, told The Associated Press Sunday that Russian officials suggested that handing over the enclave, encircled by Syrian government and its rival Turkey and Syrian fighters it backs, would avert the Turkish offensive. A spokesman for the Kurdish fighters said the attack was repelled. Residents in border villages were taking precautions against the bombings, he said.

"Our air force has completed their mission and returned to base". And as of tomorrow, depending on developments, our land forces will carry out the necessary steps. But controlled by Turkish army and its local allies.

Academics and global human rights activists launched a petition calling upon world powers to act against Turkish aggression against Afrin, ANF News reported. "Now we see how the YPG. are fleeing in Afrin", President Tayyip Erdogan said.

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Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in an interview with Kommersant newspaper that Turkey had been infuriated by "unilateral" US actions in Syria. "This will be an act of aggression against us, our people and Syria".

He told a news outlet that the Syrian government was informed of the operation in advance, but the Syrian government, speaking through the state-run news agency SANA, said it wasn't notified.

A U.S. State Department official on Friday said military intervention by Turkey in Syria would undermine regional stability and would not help protect Turkey's border security.

Turkish ground troops entered Syria on Sunday to push an offensive against Kurdish militia as rocket fire hit a border town in apparent retaliation.

However, Sputnik reported that Syria claimed it was not notified and that Damascus "resolutely condemns Turkish military operation in Afrin". The reason is Ankara's longtime concern that a Kurdish autonomy in Syria would inspire similar ambitions among Kurds in Turkey.

The petition, signed by academics and activists like Noam Chomsky, Michael Hardt and Debbi Bookchin, called for prevention of further Turkish attacks on Afrin. Afrin is now surrounded by enemies: Turkish-supported jihadi groups, al Qaeda, and Turkey. And the defence ministry said its troops were withdrawing from the Afrin area to ensure their security and prevent any "provocation".

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Turkey's military and intelligence chiefs traveled to Moscow on Thursday to discuss Turkey's planned operation. "In keeping with past practice, both have agreed to keep the details of their conversations private".

But the US -backed Syrian Democratic Forces - of which the YPG is a major component - accused Turkey on Saturday of using cross-border shelling as a false pretext to launch an offensive in Syria.

It was not immediately clear who fired the rockets, though they followed Turkish airstrikes on areas under the control of the People's Protection Units, also known as the YPG.

Turkey is targeting the US-backed fighters at a time when ties with ally Washington appear close to breaking point. They are sheltering in camps at the Turkish border and rebels say they have not been allowed to go back to their homes.

Indeed, Turkey complains that United States has sent numerous weapons to YPG in context of fight against Islamic State in Syria.

"We call on the opposing sides to exercise mutual restraint", it said.

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