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Counter-punch: Turkey takes military action

ISTANBUL - After last weeks suicide bomobing at a cultural center in the border town of Suruc where 32 people were killed and more than 100 wounded, Turkey finally tarted military campaigns against the IS across the boarder in Syri and agreeed to let the United States use its air bases to attack the militants in Syria as well as carrying out its own strikes. It also came to the first accusations of PKK`s Syrian branch YPG - and America's most effective ally in the fight against IS in Syria - against Turkey saying that they would target specificly YPG`s fighters inside Syria.

 

The Turkish government has long been accused of turning a blind eye to the rise of Islamic State or even actively backing the jihadists against the Assad regime. It has always denied the allegation. Last week, Turkey finally started military campaigns, one against the IS across the border in Syria, and the other targeting PKK in northern Iraq.

The air raids followed a suicide bombing in the southern Turkish town of Suruc earlier in the week that killed thirty-two people. Turkish authorities blamed a militant trained by IS for it. Following the bombing, PKK killed two Turkish police officers in retaliation for what they saw as Turkey's collaboration with IS. Both incidents appear to have been the final catalyst for Turkish involvement. Within a week, Turkey has gone from a reluctant observer to military strikes against the group and, simultaneously, the first aerial bombing of PKK Kurdish separatists in northern Iraq in four years.

This week, PKK’s Syrian branch YPG – and America’s most effective ally in the fight against the IS in Syria - accused Turkey of targeting its fighters inside Syria. In a statement, the YPG said Turkey had attacked a Kurd and opposition-held town near the border and that an hour later it had attacked vehicles belonging to the Kurdish militia. A Turkish official replied that the military did not intend to target the Syrian Kurds but to neutralise imminent threats to Turkey’s national security and continues to target the IS in Syria and the PKK in Iraq.

The PKK said Turkish strikes on its bases meant the government in Ankara had ended a fragile 2013 ceasefire between the two sides. Foreign leaders such as German Chancellor Angela Merkel urged Turkish Prime minister Davutoglu to stick with the Kurdish peace process despite the recent escalating violence.

The Turkish opposition stated that they are concerned the governing party AKP aims to stir up anti-Kurdish sentiment before a possible election later this year that will take place early if no governing coalition with other parties can be formed in the meantime. President Erdogan might intend to win a majority on the back of a wave of anti-Kurdish and anti-terrorist nationalism.

'Come to My Voice' is a poetic frame story in which director Hüseyin Karabe sheds light on the ‘hidden war’ that the Turkish government has been waging against the Kurdish population for the past twenty years.

Watch the trailer of 'Come To My Voice'.

Turkey has now called a special meeting of all 28 NATO ambassadors in Brussels on Tuesday to discuss military operations against the IS group and PKK. It comes after Turkey and the US agreed on the outlines of a plan to drive the IS out of a strip of land along the Turkish-Syrian border, to create an “Islamic State-free zone” and to allow a coalition led by the US to use Turkish airbases to bomb militant targets in Syria.

It remains unclear how the safe haven will be policed, whether it will have to include a no-fly zone patrolled by coalition planes, and what the response will be if troops loyal to the regime of Syrian president Assad attack American allies including the YPG and its fighters.

It is also not clear how the safe haven will affect the Kurds. US warplanes have spent months over Syrian skies bombing the IS to help the Kurds take the fight to the militants. But Ankara is worried that the Kurds’ successes across the border will fire up separatists at home.