US calls for Turkey, YPG to ease tensions in Syria


U.S. State Department spokesman Mark Toner has called for Turkey and the military wing of the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union (PYD), the People’s Protection Units (YPG), to ease increasing tension in northern Syria by withdrawing their current operations in the region.

“The YPG needs to stop its own actions on the ground that we believe raises tensions. But we would also urge Turkey to, as I said, cease firing artillery across the border,” he announced.

Turkey regards the YPG as a terrorist organization, as it sees it as an extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), with which Turkey has been in armed clashes since the mid-1980s.

It has been shelling YPG targets in the Azez town of northern Syria since Feb. 13, after the group seized the Menagh air base north of Aleppo.

Toner reiterated U.S.’ previous statements that it saw the PYD and YPG as an effective partner in the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Syria.

“We do view them as an effective fighting force, but we’ve also been clear that we don’t want to see them take actions or hold territory that is going to create tensions either with Turkey or with other groups in that area,” Toner said, adding that the U.S. considered YPG’s actions in the region to be “counterproductive to the overall effort to defeat ISIL.”

Meanwhile, the Syrian U.N. envoy Bashar Ja’afari said Feb. 16 that the PYD enjoys the support of not only the U.S. but also Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime.

“These Syrian Kurds supported by the American administration are also supported by the Syrian government, just for your kind information,” Ja’afari told reporters following a closed-door Security Council meeting on Turkey’s recent shelling of PYD targets in northern Syria, state-run Anadolu Agency reported.

The session, in which no action was taken, was held at the request of Russia.

“The victory achieved in the northern part of Syria, both by the Syrian army and the Syrian Kurds, is a joint victory for all the Syrians.

Everybody is benefiting from the Syrian army’s direct support,” Ja’afari said.

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