(GPA) Aleppo – Once again, NATO member state Turkey has been using joint campaigns against the Islamic State (IS) to pursue their own objectives against Kurdish militias also fighting the terrorist organization.
In recent weeks Kurdish militias have managed to secure a chain of villages north of Aleppo in the fight to remove IS from one of Syria’s largest cities. Turkey has stated they are also assisting in the fight against IS but the last recorded strike in Syria against the group were in November of last year.
In the past few days there have also been skirmishes between Turkish-backed factions of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and the Kurdish YPG and PYD. The competing groups have clashed several times in the past, despite both being loosely partnered with the United States (although the US has no issue with the Kurds suffering losses when it’s beneficial.)
This last clash between these groups was reported on Wednesday and then the reports came in this morning of the Turkish bombing run that killed an estimated 200 Kurds (Kurdish officials say the death toll is much lower.) The Turks also claim to have taken out the regional headquarters of the YPG along with ammunition stockpiles and shelters.
Turkey may be stepping up the fight against the Kurds in Syria after the recent rejection by the Iraqi government of Turks joining the current battle to retake Mosul from IS. Kurdish fighters are aiding Iraqi forces in that conflict and could easily come under threat from Turkey if they should get involved.
Turkey claimed this latest in Syria bombing was a retaliation for a shelling by the Kurds launched over the border into a Turkish wasteland. All Kurdish targets hit by Turkey are always accused of colluding with the PKK, a militant group that has carried out attacks on Turkish targets and is designated a terrorist organization.
These links are usually speculative to the outside observer and their credibility depends on how much faith you place in the statements issued by Turkish officials. Even with large offensives against IS underway, it seems the Turks will continue to use the conflicts in the region to attack the Kurds and settle longtime disputes regardless of Kurdish effectiveness against jihadis in Syria and Iraq.