Thursday, March 23, 2017

Turkish military claims to have killed more than 70 Kurdish fighters in Syria in one week.

A statement by the Turkish military claimed that Turkish troops have killed at least 71 fighters from Kurdish YPG during the past week in Syria. They also claimed that since invading Syria they have killed 425 Kurds.
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Wikipedia, describes the YPG as follows:
The People's Protection Units (Kurdish: Yekîneyên Parastina Gel‎, یەکینەکانی پاراستنی گەل pronounced [jɑkinæjen pɑrɑstinɑ gæl]; YPG) is the militia of the Democratic Union Party, the primary component of Rojava's Syrian Democratic Forces, and the Syrian affiliate of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) according to the Turkish government.
The Turkish government considers the YPG as a terrorist group but not the Americans who support the YPG. The YPG are part of the umbrella group Syrian Democratic Forces(SDF) that includes more than Kurds. The U.S. has been attempting to try to prevent clashes between the YPG and Turkish troops as discussed in a recent Digital Journal article.
The US already has embedded a number of Army Rangers in the city of Manbij to forestall any Turkish attack. The Turks originally focused on Islamic State targets but have always said that they intend to eliminate not just the Islamic State but the YPG as well. However, the U.S. considers the YPG to be a key ally in defeating the Islamic State. Turkish officials have expressed anger that the U.S. claims that the Kurds are not all terrorists insisting the the U.S. has lost its senses.
Cihan Sheikh Ehmed, a spokesperson for the SDF forces said that it has enough forces to take the de facto Islamic Syrian capital with the help of the U.S.-led coalition. This statement is perhaps a veiled warning to Turks not to become involved as they are also heading towards the city. U.S. troops appear to be playing a larger role on the ground in the offensive towards Raqqa. Ehmed's remarks are likely to anger Turkey as it would like Turkish troops and rebels it supports to lead the offensive not the SDF dominated by the YPG that it considers terrorists.
The U.S. has been launching many air strikes on Raqqa as the SDF forces advance closer to the city. 13 strikes were reported on various targets. The Turks and allied Syrian rebels claim to have killed 2,647 Islamic State (IS) fighters and added more than 2,000 square kilometers (772 square miles) to the territory they control. The Assad regime wants Turkey to remove its troops. Syrian state media reported last Friday that Turkish troops had shelled Syrian army positions killing and wounding several troops.
Trump was given a new plan for defeating the Islamic State late in February. While the White House has yet to decide upon the options outlined in the plan, recent deployments of U.S. troops into Syria suggest that the Pentagon is being allowed greater flexibility in making routine combat decisions and increasing troop numbers.
The Russians also have been on the offensive in Syria helping Assad and defeating the IS:The Russian military said Friday that its warplanes have killed more than 600 militants in just one week while backing the Syrian army's offensive against IS. Col. Gen. Sergei Rudskoi of the military's General Staff said Russian aircraft have carried out 452 airstrikes in support of the Syrian government forces. In addition, Rudskoi stated that Syrian government forces have recaptured 92 towns and villages across a territory of 479 square kilometers, or 185 square miles, from IS in the past week.
While the IS seems to be close to losing the last major city it holds in Iraq there is increasing danger of further conflict of Turkish forces with the SDF, a situation the U.S. is anxious to avoid.

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