Germany backs Turkey’s drive against ISIS and Kurds

Germany’s foreign ministry spokesman says the operation is ‘in keeping with the goals and aims of the anti-ISIS coalition’

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Germany on Wednesday said it supported both an unprecedented Turkish operation in Syria to drive out ISIS militants and Ankara’s targeting of Kurdish militia fighters at the border.

Foreign ministry spokesman Martin Schaefer told reporters that the Turkish air and ground offensive in a key Syrian border town was “in keeping with the goals and aims of the anti-ISIS coalition.”

He added that Berlin would not condemn Ankara’s action against Kurdish fighters, who are backed by the US as a key ally against ISIS and who had also been closing in on the town of Jarabulus directly opposite Turkey.

“Turkey, rightly or wrongly, believes that there are links between the PKK (Kurdistan Workers’ Party), which we see as a terror organization, on the Turkish side and elements among the Kurds on the Syrian side,” Schaefer said.

“We respect that and think that Turkey has the legitimate right to take action against these terrorist activities. Hence we support Turkey on this.”

The Turkish operation - named “Euphrates Shield” - began around 4:00 am (0100 GMT) Wednesday with artillery pounding dozens of ISIS targets around Jarabulus.

Turkish F-16 fighter jets, backed by US-led coalition war planes, also hit targets inside Syria, after tensions had flared following rocket fire from Jarabulus which landed inside Turkey.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan emphasized the operation was also targeting the Kurdish militia fighters over alarm in Turkey about the activities inside Syria of the People’s Protection Units (YPG) militia, which Washington sees as an ally but Ankara regards as a terror group.

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