Turkey ‘Concerned’ as Kurds Oust al-Qaeda From Syrian Border Town

Kurdish Faction Retakes Ras al-Ayn After Heavy Fighting

Turkey’s Foreign Ministry has issued concern today after overnight fighting in the Syrian border town of Ras al-Ayn led to local Kurdish fighters ousting al-Qaeda-backed rebels from the area.

The fighters from the Democratic Union Party (PYD) clashed with Jabhat al-Nusra fighters around the border area throughout the day Wednesday, with stray bullets crossing into Turkey and locals in the town of Ceylanpinar staying indoors as fighting raged in neighboring Syria.

The Turkish government’s reaction was harshly critical of the PYD, which it dubbed “separatist terrorists,” while Turkish officials have been supporting al-Nusra openly, despite the group’s overt ties with al-Qaeda’s leadership. Clearly “terrorism” isn’t a problem for the Erdogan government.

Rather, Kurdish separatism is the problem, and has been the problem for Turkey for a long time. The government’s eagerness to back the Syrian rebels was in part because they figured Arab nationalist rebels would crack down on Kurdish secessionist efforts more than Assad has. Instead, Turkey has found itself allied with al-Qaeda and supporting a war that is leaving their southern border a destabilized mess.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for Antiwar.com. He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.