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Turkish army, Syrian Kurdish militia in new clashes

Published: Updated:

New clashes erupted Friday between the Turkish army and a Syrian Kurdish militia seen as a terror group by Ankara but as a key ally by the United States in the fight against extremist, the Turkish army said.

Rockets fired from an area in Syria controlled by the Kurdish Peoples’ Protection Units (YPG) targeted a Turkish army command post in the Ceylanpinar district of Turkey’s southern Sanliurfa province.

The Turkish army fired back, killing 11 “terrorists,” it said. There were no reports of casualties on the Turkish side.

This was the third day in a row clashes have been reported across the tense border after the Turkish air force earlier this week bombed YPG targets in Syria.

The US State Department has said it was “deeply concerned” that the strikes were conducted “without proper coordination either with the United States or the broader global coalition” against ISIS.

Russia’s foreign ministry on Wednesday meanwhile said Turkey’s bombing raids were unacceptable and called on all sides to show restraint.

But Ankara insisted that Washington and Moscow had been properly informed ahead of time.

Turkey says fighters of the YPG in Syria are linked to Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) separatists inside Turkey, who have waged an insurgency since 1984 that has killed over 40,000 people.

But Washington, wary of committing large numbers of its own forces on the ground, sees the YPG as essential in the fight against ISIS in Syria.

The new clashes came as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Friday warned the YPG that Turkey would fire back against any assault and thwart the creation of any Kurdish state in northern Syria.

“Are we going to leave them unanswered? We are doing what is necessary. We will take this kind of measure as long as the threats continue,” Erdogan told a conference in Istanbul.