Turkish army bombs area east of the Euphrates targeting YPG militia

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A photo taken from Turkey's Hatay province, on February 22, 2018 shows Turkish Army Forces' artillery units hit YPG targets within the 'Operation Olive Branch' launched in Syria's Afrin. Turkey launched Operation Olive Branch on January 20 in Syria’s northwestern Afrin region. AFP PHOTOS

Turkey’s military on Sunday fired artillery shells at a Kurdish militia in Syria that is backed by the United States but deemed a terrorist group by Ankara, AFP reported

The shells targeted “shelters” of the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) east of the Euphrates River in the Kobani region of northern Syria, according to the state-run Anadolu news agency.

The strikes come a day after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan hosted a summit in İstanbul on the Syrian conflict with the leaders of Russia, France and Germany in which they adopted a joint statement committing to work “together in order to create conditions for peace and stability in Syria.”

It also follows numerous threats by Erdoğan to launch a new offensive in Syria east of the Euphrates. On Friday he said he was giving the YPG a “final warning.”

Anadolu reported that the strikes targeted YPG positions and trenches on a hill near the eastern bank of the Euphrates, across the river from the city of Jarablus.

The YPG is an ally of the US in the fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and holds swathes of northern and northeastern Syria.

However, Ankara is bitterly opposed to the YPG, regarding it as an extension of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has waged a deadly insurgency in Turkey since 1984.

The PKK is designated as a terror group by Turkey and its Western allies.

Washington’s support for the YPG remains a major point of contention between the US and Turkey, NATO allies who have seen relations deteriorate over the last two years.

Both oppose the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, but Turkey’s military incursions have recently focused more on Kurdish militias near its border.

Turkey has launched two offensives west of the Euphrates since 2016 to repel jihadists from its border and prevent zones under YPG control from joining.

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