Connect with us


Turkish strikes on Kurds stoke tensions with Syria as well

News Agencies



BEIRUT (AP) — Russia has pushed for years for a reconciliation between its ally, the Syrian government, and Turkey, which stood on opposing sides in Syria’s civil war. Recent weeks saw the first small signs of possible progress.

But that could be threatened by this weekend’s flare-up in tensions between Turkey and Syrian Kurds who control much of north and eastern Syria. Turkish airstrikes hit positions in Syria and Iraq of suspected Kurdish militants that Turkey blames for a deadly Nov. 13 bombing in Istanbul.

The strikes also hit Syrian army positions, killing and wounding a number of soldiers. Further worrying to Syria: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s repeated warnings that his military could carry out a new ground incursion into Syria, something U.S.-backed Kurdish forces have vowed to fight.

The Russian presidential envoy in Syria, Alexander Lavrentyev, urged Turkey on Tuesday to show restraint. He said he hoped it “will be possible to convince our Turkish partners to refrain from excessive use of force on Syrian territory.”

The warnings underscore the danger of a new escalation of violence in a Syria that has been relatively calm for several years but is still torn to pieces among multiple powers by 11 years of conflict, from the long civil war to the rise and fall of the Islamic State group.

Turkey and the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad both oppose the Syrian Kurds: Ankara because it accuses them of links to Kurdish militants on its soil, Damascus because of the Kurdish hold over nearly a third of Syria’s territory, including the oil-rich east. In a further complication, U.S. troops in northeastern Syria are working with the Kurdish-led forces there.

But sharing an opponent has so far not been enough to overcome other reasons for enmity. Damascus denounces Turkey’s hold over long stretches of northern Syria along the shared border, seized in Turkey’s previous military incursions against the Kurds since 2016. During the civil war, Turkey also backed rebels trying to oust Assad, and it still protects the opposition fighters’ last territorial enclave in northwest Syria.

The deaths of Syrian soldiers in the weekend strikes further raise the temperature. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an opposition war monitor that tracks the country’s conflict, reported 18 Syrian soldiers were killed.

“Syria sees what happened as an aggression, and this affects any Iranian or Russian mediation that could open the closed doors between Ankara and Damascus,” said Muhannad Haj Ali, a former Syrian legislator and a commander with the armed wing of Syria’s ruling Baath party. “This undermines any political attempts, and therefore the Turks will have to apologize.”

Prior to the strikes, there were hopeful signs in the reconciliation effort. In July, talks were held in Moscow between the head of Syria’s National Security Council, Ali Mamluk, and Turkish intelligence chief Hakan Fidan, according to Ibrahim Hamidi, senior diplomatic editor for Syrian affairs at the London-based Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper.

Asked on Wednesday about a possible meeting with Assad, Erdogan said: “There can be no resentment in politics. In the end, steps will be taken under the most favorable conditions.” Erdogan had said as recently as October that he would consider meeting the Syrian president.

A Lebanese politician allied with Syria who regularly meets Syrian officials said the Iranians, another close ally of Moscow, recently carried a message from Erdogan to Assad. In it, Erdogan called for the return of the Syrian army to areas now controlled by the Kurds, for action to prevent Kurdish fighters from using Syrian gas and oil and for Syrian refugees in Turkey to be returned to Syria.

Erdogan is under intense pressure at home to send Syrian refugees back. Anti-refugee sentiment is rising in Turkey amid an economic crisis, with presidential and parliamentary elections set for next year.

For Russia, a deal between Damascus and Ankara would help strengthen its ally Assad and would further promote Moscow’s influence with Turkey, a NATO member that is increasingly warm to Russia.

In the message passed by the Iranians, Erdogan also said he was ready to send Turkish officials to Damascus, but Assad refused, saying they could meet in a third country, according to the Lebanese politician, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly about sensitive Syrian affairs.

A senior Turkish government official denied any Iranian mediation, arguing that Tehran was “antagonistic” toward Turkey in Syria. The official said it was Russia that pushed Turkey toward reconciliation but that there was “no progress at all.” He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the backroom diplomacy.

Turkey’s hand inside Syria is a major obstacle for Damascus.

Haj Ali called Turkey an occupying force and said it must end “terrorism,” referring to its support of Syrian opposition fighters.

Mais Kreidi, a Syria-based member of the committee charged with producing a new constitution for Syria, said Syria will not accept less than full Turkish withdrawal to restore ties.

“In Syria we have red lines and they include liberating our land,” Kreidi said.

Still, Abdurrahman of the Syrian Observatory said he doubts the talks will be hurt by the Syrian soldiers’ deaths in Turkey’s strikes, given their common interest against the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces.

“The SDF is the enemy for both sides,” Abdurrahman said.

Progress in talks was enough to raise concern among the Syrian Kurds.

Kurdish fighters “are taking this issue seriously and taking measures to address it,” SDF commander Mazloum Abdi told Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper. Any deal, he said, “will target the will of our people.”

Speaking to The Associated Press in northern Syria late Tuesday, Abdi said that there are no basis for an agreement between Turkey and Syria.

“If this happens, it will be a great national crime because this will open the way for the occupation of parts of Syria,” Abdi said. “This is not acceptable.”

On Monday the SDF expressed condolences to the families of Syrian soldiers killed in the Turkish airstrikes and said Syrians should remember the “schemes of Turkish occupation and its mercenaries” — a sign of how the Kurds have also sought to promote common cause with Damascus.


Associated Press writer Suzan Fraser in Ankara, Turkey and Hogir Al Abdo in Qamishli, Syria contributed to this report.

Continue Reading

Breaking News


Editor Pick’s

Latest Entertainment

Entertainment14 hours ago

George Clooney says he was ‘objectified’ in early roles

George Clooney walks the red carpet at the Ticket to Paradise premiere at Regency Village Theatre in Los Angeles on...

Entertainment16 hours ago

Oscar Predictions: Best Supporting Actor – Ke Huy Quan Is a Story Worth Honoring This Season

Rank Name Film Distributor 1 Ke Huy Quan “Everything Everywhere All at Once” A24 An aging Chinese immigrant is swept...

Entertainment17 hours ago

Sally Field reveals that Burt Reynolds was her worst onscreen kiss: ‘Just a lot of drooling’

Turns out, Sally Field didn’t exactly have a field day when it came time to kiss her Smokey and the...

Entertainment18 hours ago

New Trailer For Miss Cleo Documentary Hints At ‘Web Of Stories’ Surrounding Her Life

Youree Dell Harris, aka Miss Cleo, is pictured on Feb. 24, 2009, in Lake Worth, Florida. Youree Dell Harris, aka...

Entertainment18 hours ago

Jury begins deliberations in Harvey Weinstein rape trial

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Jurors began deliberating Friday in the Los Angeles rape and sexual assault trial of Harvey Weinstein,...

Entertainment19 hours ago

Man arrested in fatal shooting of Migos rapper Takeoff

HOUSTON (AP) — Police have arrested a 33-year-old man in the fatal shooting of rapper Takeoff, who was killed last...

Entertainment19 hours ago

John Krasinski says his kids think he works in an office and when he showed them episodes of his show “The Office,” his youngest didn’t believe it was him on TV

John Krasinski, left, and right, as Jim Halpert in “The Office.”Jason Howard/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images; NBCUniversal/Getty Images John Krasinski’s kids think he...

Entertainment19 hours ago

‘Midnight Club’ Creator Mike Flanagan Reveals All Answers to Unresolved Mysteries After Show’s Cancellation, Including Mirror Man and Cataract Woman

Mike Flanagan kept his word and has revealed the answers to burning questions from the cliffhanger ending of “The Midnight...

Latest Sports

Sports1 hour ago

Michigan football vs. Purdue: Big Ten title game predictions

Free Press sports writers share their predictions for the Big Ten title game Saturday between Michigan football and Purdue in...

Sports2 hours ago

Uruguay Players Angrily Follow Refs Into Tunnel After World Cup Elimination

Players from Uruguay let out their frustration, yelling at refs as they exited Al Janoub Stadium amid the Sky Blue's...

Sports2 hours ago

World Cup Round of 16 scores, updates: United States vs. Netherlands

The first of the Round of 16 games are upon us.

Sports2 hours ago

Jordan Poole baffled by ‘controlling’ refs calling celebration technical fouls

Jordan Poole reacted postgame after receiving a technical foul for celebrating on the bench.

Sports3 hours ago

Photo Gallery: Nebraska outlasts Kansas to advance to Sweet 16

Jansen Coburn/Inside Nebraska Nebraska defeated Kansas in a four-set, grind-it-out match on Friday night to advance to an 11th straight...

Sports3 hours ago

All Georgia’s Stetson Bennett does is deliver, even if he’s not a tantalizing NFL prospect

Stetson Bennett may not be high on NFL draft radar, but all he's done at Georgia is win.

Sports4 hours ago

Michigan DL Mazi Smith facing felony weapons charge, will continue to play

The charge against Smith was filed on Wednesday stemming from an alleged Oct. 7 incident in Ann Arbor.

Sports4 hours ago

What Draymond Green learned about himself after Jordan Poole altercation

In an interview with Marc J. Spears, Draymond Green shares what he learned from his altercation with Jordan Poole.

Technology Hot News

Is Elon Musk Really Going to Buy Twitter? Is Elon Musk Really Going to Buy Twitter?
Technology1 month ago

Is Elon Musk Really Going to Buy Twitter?

Elon Musk, the owner of the electric car company Tesla, CEO of SpaceX, and the richest man in the world,...

WhatsApp services were affected across Pakistan, restored after 2 hours WhatsApp services were affected across Pakistan, restored after 2 hours
Technology1 month ago

WhatsApp services were affected across Pakistan, restored after 2 hours

WhatsApp services were affected in various countries of the world, including Pakistan, and India due to this users were facing...

Bitcoin vs Litecoin: A guide to understanding cryptocurrencies Bitcoin vs Litecoin: A guide to understanding cryptocurrencies
Technology2 months ago

Bitcoin vs Litecoin: A guide to understanding cryptocurrencies

Cryptocurrencies currently occupy an odd place in society. They are no longer the super niche bizarre currency beloved by tech...

Personal data of people is selling on Google Play and Google Ads Personal data of people is selling on Google Play and Google Ads
Editor Picks3 months ago

Personal data of people are sold on Google Play and Google Ads

It’s been two to three years since Google has been unknowingly hosting multiple apps from malicious actors who sell personal...

Protonmail is down a second time in the past 24 hours Protonmail is down a second time in the past 24 hours
Technology5 months ago

Protonmail is down a second time in the past 24 hours

An end-to-end encrypted email service Protonmail is down a second time in the past 24 hours, netizens reported on social...

What's better for the student: a tablet or a laptop What's better for the student: a tablet or a laptop
Technology6 months ago

What’s better for the student: a tablet or a laptop

Some analysts argue that computers have outlived their usefulness. There is some truth in this: PC and laptop sales are...

Tesla founder Elon Musk holds the Twitter deal temporary Tesla founder Elon Musk holds the Twitter deal temporary
Technology7 months ago

Tesla founder Elon Musk holds the Twitter deal temporary

USA: Elon Musk, the founder of companies like Tesla and SpaceX, can actually buy anything in the world. Last month,...

How Zafar Supari is utilizing his ability on Snapchat? How Zafar Supari is utilizing his ability on Snapchat?
Technology7 months ago

How Zafar Supari is utilizing his ability on Snapchat?

Pakistan: Zafar Supari a public figure, businessman, and social media sensation has crossed one hundred thirty-three thousand 133k subscribers on...