ERBIL, Kurdistan Region — Ankara has said that it retaliated with shelling after Kurdish People’s Protection (YPG) units attacked Turkish-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA) fighters in northwestern Syria, rebutting YPG claims that it first was responding to aggression.
“Fire support vehicles in the region were used to retaliate in kind against the harassing fire and the identified targets were destroyed/neutralized,” read a military statement, as reported by Turkey’s Hurriyet Daily News.
The YPG had said that it was responding to aggression after Turkish forces and their Syrian allies have “increased their attacks against Rojava,” targeting Afrin canton on a near daily basis over the past week and also flying over Kobane.
Hurriyet reported on Wednesday that the Turkey army said YPG machine-gun fire on Tuesday evening targeted FSA elements in the Maranaz area south of the town of Azaz in northern Syria.
The UK-based conflict monitor Syrian Observatory for Human Right (SOHR) described “heavy shelling” in the area on Tuesday.
Azaz is located about 42 kilometers north of the city of Aleppo and just kilometers south of the Turkish border.
Daily clashes are taking place between Kurdish forces and Turkish-backed groups in northern Syria.
Turkey has been backing the FSA in the Syrian civil war. The group has held territory in Syria stretching from Jarabulus in the east to Azaz in the west spanning about 90 kilometers.
The local ARA News reported last week that “All roads leading into Afrin are blocked,” by Turkey, the Syrian rebels, the Syrian government and Al-Qaeda.
Previously, Russia and Syrian forces have provided a buffer between the FSA and YPG in the area.