In Attacking Syrian Kurds, Turkey Risks Tensions With US and Russia

Russia to Bring Turkish Attacks Before UN Security Council

For the fourth straight day, Turkish forces continued to shell targets across northern Syria. Some of the targets have belonged to the Syrian military, but by and large the focus has been on the Kurdish YPG, which Turkey insists is a “terrorist” organization.

Turkey has been railing about YPG gains across northern Syria for months now, but it is only just now beginning to intervene against those gains, as the YPG begins an offensive against ISIS. Turkish officials have accused Russia of plotting to support the Kurds against ISIS, and threatened to invade to stop the Kurds from gaining that territory.

Russia is helping the YPG to an extent, but the group is more heavily backed by the US, and Turkey has repeatedly demanded the US “choose” between them and the Kurds. Though that’s limited the US in backing the Kurds against ISIS territory in Aleppo, it’s not leading to a complete split.

Which means that in continuing their offensive, Turkey is picking a fight both with Russia, something they seem to want, and the US, something they probably don’t want. Russia is threatening to bring them before the UN Security Council, and while Turkey is scoffing at the notion, they might not have a veto in their pocket.

A NATO member nation could usually count on one of the 3 permanent UN Security Council members in NATO vetoing a Russia-proposed resolution against them, but both the US and France have been very public in opposing Turkish attacks on the Kurds, and Britain doesn’t seem to be rushing to support them either.

While the Erdogan government has long based its Syria strategy on what would be worst for the Syrian Kurds, this has ultimately led them to a point where they’re defending ISIS from Kurdish offensives, and picking fights with several major powers in the process.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of