Turkey Shells Northern Syria, Insists ISIS Targeted, Not Kurds

Russia: Turkish Shelling Hitting Kurdish Units Fighting al-Qaeda

Turkey is confirming military shelling against targets in northern Syria today, but insists that they are solely targeting ISIS, and not the Kurdish YPG, which is a party to the Syrian ceasefire and therefore off limits.

The YPG says their positions around Afrin were hit by the shelling, a comment that Russia’s Defense Ministry confirmed, adding that Turkish cargo trucks have been crossing into Syria for rebel factions in the same area.

The YPG forces in the area are fighting al-Qaeda’s Nusra Front, and Turkey has been seen in the past as backing a lot of factions in the Nusra-led coalition in that area, and was loudly opposed to allowing the Kurds to participate in the ceasefire, insisting at the time they didn’t feel bound by the ceasefire forbidding attacks on the YPG.

With the ceasefire holding after nearly a week, it would be difficult for Turkey to explain flagrant violations, though with the YPG fighting against both ISIS and Nusra in the area, the proximity to the two may allow some plausible deniability for cross-border shelling.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is senior editor of Antiwar.com.