Mon, Oct 21, 2019 - Page 4 News List

Turkey says soldier killed by YPG despite ceasefire

SHAKY TRUCE:Militants armed with anti-tank and light weapons attacked Turkish soldiers carrying out a reconnaissance mission in a Syrian border town, officials said

Reuters, ANKARA

Turkey-backed Syrian fighters are pictured on the Turkish-Syrian border in Akcakale, Turkey, yesterday.

Photo: Reuters

One Turkish soldier was killed and another was wounded yesterday after an attack by the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia in northeast Syria’s Tel Abyad, the Turkish Ministry of National Defense said, despite a deal to pause military operations as militants withdraw from the area.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan agreed on Thursday in talks with US Vice President Mike Pence a five-day pause in the offensive to allow time for the Kurdish fighters to withdraw from a “safe zone” Turkey aims to form in northeast Syria near its border.

On Saturday, the truce was holding along the border, with just a few Turkish military vehicles crossing, a Reuters reporter at the scene said.

However, yesterday’s attack has underlined how fragile the agreement is.

Ankara regards the YPG, the main component of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, as a terrorist group because of its links to Kurdish insurgents in southeast Turkey. The YPG has been a close US ally in the fight the against Islamic State group.

An attack by the YPG with anti-tank and light weapons had struck Turkish soldiers carrying out a reconnaissance and surveillance mission in Tel Abyad, the ministry said in a statement.

“The immediate response based on self-defense was given,” the ministry said. “Despite the Safe Zone Agreement with the United States ... 20 harassments/violations were committed by PKK/YPG terrorists,” it said, referring to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party.

On Friday, the Kurdish militia accused Turkey of violating the five-day pause by shelling civilian areas in the northeast and the border town of Ras al-Ain.

A senior Turkish official on Saturday dismissed the accusations, saying these were an attempt to sabotage the agreement between Ankara and Washington, and that Turkey fully supported the deal.

Erdogan on Saturday said that the offensive would continue and Turkey would “crush the heads of terrorists” if the deal was not fully implemented, while Turkey has insisted that it is the duty of Washington to ensure the withdrawal of the YPG.

The ministry late on Saturday said that it was closely monitoring the withdrawal of the YPG and that it was in close contact with US officials over the issue and to provide logistical information.

Turkey aims to establish a “safe zone” about 32km into Syria. Erdogan on Friday said it would run for about 440km along the border, though the US special envoy for Syria said the accord covered a smaller area where Turkish forces and their Syrian rebel allies were fighting.

Erdogan also said on Friday that Turkey would set up a dozen observation posts across northeast Syria, and that he would hold talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin on what steps to take in the planned “safe zone” next week.

Meanwhile, US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi and a bipartisan delegation of US lawmakers have visited Jordan to discuss “the deepening crisis” amid the shaky ceasefire.

The delegation on Saturday met with Jordan’s King Abdullah II in Amman and held “vital discussions about the impact to regional stability,” a statement from Pelosi’s office said.

Jordan is a key US ally in the region.

Additional reporting by AP

This story has been viewed 2137 times.

Comments will be moderated. Keep comments relevant to the article. Remarks containing abusive and obscene language, personal attacks of any kind or promotion will be removed and the user banned. Final decision will be at the discretion of the Taipei Times.

TOP top