SDF Official: Turkey targeting villages near Kobani and Tal Abyad

The Turkish army has continued some cross-border shelling of northeastern Syria despite pressure from the United States, a Syrian Kurdish official has said.

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Mustafa Bali, the head of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) press office, said the Turkish army had targeted a village near Tal Abyad and Kobani on Wednesday.

“The Turkish occupation army targeted indiscriminate bombing village of Sleib Qaran west of the city of Tal Abyad,” Bali revealed.

Moreover, he said a village near Kobani was bombed as well.

“The Turkish occupation army targeted the village of Garekli west of Kobani [continuing its] indiscriminate shelling.”

The Turkish army has continued some shelling, despite the US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs calling “for a halt of exchanges of fire in the area.” After Friday afternoon, there was a brief stop of Turkish cross-border attacks.

On Monday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) said that after 72 hours of a stop in cross-border attacks, Turkish forces targeted the countryside of Tal Abyad.

The Syria-based Kurdish Hawar News Agency reported that the Turkish army on Tuesday bombarded the Tal Jihan village near Tirbespiyê. Moreover, the Turkish army targeted al-Mehta neighborhood in the town of Serêkaniyê.

According to Seth J. Frantzman, the Executive Director of the Middle East Center for Reporting and Analysis, the US will try to prevent a Turkish cross-border attack to avoid instability in an already fragile eastern Syria which would “sabotage the Coalition’s anti-ISIS campaign.”

“Already, the SDF is facing a difficult battle in Hajin and paused operations when the shelling began,” Frantzman said. “Washington wants to balance its improving relationship with Ankara in the wake of the pastor Brunson release and the Khashoggi affair, with its mission in Syria.”

“Balancing this is made more complex by different strategies at the Defense Department, State Department, and CIA, during a time when the White House is distracted by the US mid-terms.”

On Tuesday, the US said it is offering millions of dollars for “information that brings to justice” three senior leaders of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

The announcement came as US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State – Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs, Matthew Palmer, completed a two-day visit to Ankara.

Ambassador James Jeffrey, Washington’s Syria envoy, said on Wednesday that the US doesn’t consider the People’s Protection Units (YPG) as a terrorist organization.

“Our position against the PKK is clear. Contrary to the PKK, we do not define the YPG as a terrorist organization. We have never done that,” Jeffrey said. 

“We understand Turkey’s security concerns. We understand its concerns about the ties between the YPG and the PKK. We are acting very carefully as a result of that,” he added.

Meanwhile, Frantzman said Ankara appears to have purposely increased tensions in Kobani with its cross-border attacks as joint US-Turkey patrols in Manbij were rolled out on Nov. 1 following the US-Turkish Manbij agreement in June.

“In the end, it might be that the US quietly understands some shelling and tensions will continue as long as a ground campaign can be prevented,” he said.

Editing by Karzan Sulaivany