Middle East

Turkey's Erdogan: No intent to stop retaliatory shelling against Syrian Kurds

Turkish Presidential Press Office on February 16, 2016 shows Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan addressing special forces during his visit to the Gendarmerie Commando Special Forces headquarters in Ankara. / AFP / KAYHAN OZER AND Handout

ISTANBUL: Turkey does not intend to stop shelling Syrian Kurdish YPG militia in response to cross-border fire, President Tayyip Erdogan said Wednesday, adding the United States should decide whether to back Turkey or the Kurdish insurgents.

The rapid of advance of U.S.-backed Syrian Kurdish fighters, who are taking advantage of Russian air strikes in the region to seize territory near the Turkish border, has infuriated Ankara, which sees the insurgents as a terrorist organisation. Turkey has been shelling YPG positions for days.

"Today our rules of engagement may be just about responding to an armed attack against our country, but tomorrow if necessary those rules can be expanded to cover every threat," Erdogan said in a speech broadcast live on television.

"Nobody should doubt that. We will not allow the formation of a new 'Qandil' on our southern border," he said, referring to the Qandil mountains of northern Iraq, where the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) has bases.

Erdogan said ignoring the link between the Syrian Kurdish PYD and the PKK, which has fought a three-decade insurgency for greater Kurdish autonomy in Turkey's mainly Kurdish southeast, was a "hostile act."





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