Turkey Attacks U.S.-backed Kurdish Militia
by Sarah Warren, Foreign Policy Contributor
Following through on threats made yesterday, Turkey has begun bombarding a Kurdish-held enclave in Syria. In so doing, it risks ostracizing the United States, its NATO ally, which backs the Kurdish Militia.
Turkey regards the militia, called the People’s Protection Units, as a terrorist group and a continuation of the banned Kurdish Workers’ Party. The militia and the United States reject such claims, but Turkey remains steadfast.
Turkey’s Defense Minister Nurettin Canikli says they had “no option” and that Turkey must “clear all terrorist elements” from northern Syria, which shares a border with Turkey. “The operation has actually started de facto with cross-border shelling,” Canikli said. “When I say ‘de facto’, I don’t want it to be misunderstood. It has begun. All terror networks and elements in northern Syria will be eliminated. There is no other way.”
A spokesman for the People’s Protection Units confirmed today that Turkish forces launched an attack on the Afrin region around midnight, heavily shelling the area. He claims that Turkey was directly targeting Kurdish villages and promised that the Kurds intend to “respond with utmost force” to the attack.