ANKARA — Turkey will continue attacks on Kurdish fighter posts in Syria in return to alleged attacks by the Syrian Kurds, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Wednesday.
“Let no one think we will step back. We will respond many times to every shot from that side,” Erdogan said.
The remark follows Monday’s ultimatum put forward by Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu against the self-defense forces of Syrian Kurds, demanding they abandon the Menagh Air Base (or Minnigh Airport) in northern Syria near the Turkish border or the facilities would be destroyed.
Erdogan on Wednesday condemned the United States’ lack of support for Ankara’s proposed no-fly zone over Northern Syria.
“I have long spoken about the need to create a safety zone. And I now see that certain countries, which have not supported this idea, are now starting to agree with it <…> I am asking the United States: you did not approve of a no-fly zone, and now there are Russian planes [bombing Syria] and thousands of people are dying there, but it seems that we are a coalition and must act together? So what happened?” Erdogan said during a meeting of the heads of Turkey’s local administrations.
Erdogan has been vocal in calling for a no-fly zone over Syria since the start of the Syrian crisis in 2011, urging both the United States and the United Nations to protect civilians from alleged attacks by the Syrian air force. Other members of the US-led coalition have been reluctant to back the proposal, with US President Barack Obama stating in November that imposing a no-fly zone in Syria to improve the humanitarian situation in the region was counterproductive.
On Wednesday, Erdogan stated that a “safe zone,” including a no-fly zone, is needed to protect Syrian refugees from terrorists.
On February 13, Turkish forces began shelling positions held by the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), a Kurdish group with links to the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), in Syria’s Aleppo Province. Turkish forces bombed a village and the airport, which was recently seized by Kurdish forces.
Explaining the move, Davutoglu said Turkish forces’ shelling was a retaliatory measure within rules of engagement.
Since 2011, Syria has been mired in a civil war with forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad fighting a number of opposition factions and extremist groups.