The Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) has issued a statement on the Turkish army’s activities and what it calls “violations against the territory of Rojava”.
The YPG’s statement says that on 11 February the Turkish military began constructing roads for military purposes near the town of Kobane and announced that on 12 February YPG forces clashed with Turkish soldiers trying to cross the Turkey-Syria border into areas controlled by the Rojava autonomous administration. The YPG said that an intensification of military activity by Turkey signalled to preparations for a future attack against Rojava.
Attacks with tanks and heavy weapons were reportedly also carried out from Azaz, a town near the Turkish border, on nearby YPG-controlled villages Maraanaz and Willa Qadi on Sunday and Monday.
The attacks, according to the statement, were conducted by “gangs operating under the command of the Turkish army,” possibly referring to jihadist groups within Ahrar al-Sham, such as the Levant Front, cooperating with Turkey in the Euphrates Shield operation under the banner of Free Syrian Army.
The YPG’s statement regarding Turkish attacks comes at a time where Turkey’s Euphrates Shield operation has been firmly lodged in a costly fight to take the Islamic State-held al-Bab, who today announced the death of its 68th soldier in the operation.
The Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has again said today that “after al-Bab, if the coalition agrees, we will target Manbij and Raqqa”. Reports of military preparations in Manbij by the Manbij Military Council, the multi-ethnic force that took the city from the Islamic State (IS) group last year, show that neither side will back down from a fight.
However, Turkey’s intentions and plans in Syria require approval from several different forces. The US has been reluctant to support Turkey’s efforts as until now it has seen the Kurds as an indispensable force in the fight against IS while Russia’s bombing of Turkish soldiers last week just outside the town of al-Bab was regarded by many as its response to Turkish aspirations during and after al-Bab.