Turkish army tank and armoured vehicle near the Turkey-Syria border in August 2016. Photo: AP
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Daily clashes are taking place between Kurdish forces and Turkish-backed groups in northern Syria.
The Kurdish canton of Afrin has been “shelled repeatedly” by Turkish forces and rebel groups backed by Turkey, the conflict monitor Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported on Tuesday.
The Observatory noted that the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) returned fire.
The Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), the dominant force in the SDF, confirmed that Turkish forces and their Syrian allies have “increased their attacks against Rojava,” targeting Afrin canton on a near daily basis over the past week and also flying over Kobane.
The YPG stated they have responded to the aggression.
According to the Observatory, the rising tensions in northern Syria followed a build-up of Turkish forces in the area and “continued preparations” of Turkish forces and their Syrian allies “to carry out a wide-scale military operation against the Syria Democratic Forces in Afrin” and areas in the northern Aleppo countryside.
Asked earlier this week if the US-led coalition was aware of the Turkish build-up in northern Syria and fears of an attack on their SDF and YPG allies, coalition spokesperson Col. Ryan Dillon confirmed they had “seen some movement” but declined to make any further comment.
After clashes between Turkish and Kurdish forces near Manbij in March, the US deployed special forces to the area to “deter aggression” against them and reassure their Kurdish allies.