GAZIANTEP, TURKEY:The multi-sided war raging in Syria became even more tangled when Turkish troops shelled positions near the border controlled by U.S.-allied fighters from the Kurdish People’s Protection Units, or YPG.Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu confirmed the overnight Saturday artillery barrage and demanded the YPG withdraw from the Syrian border town of Azaz and vacate a nearby air base the Kurds seized last week from Syrian rebel forces. The Turkish shelling continued Sunday.The Kurdish rebels backed by the West and Gulf countries have been battling for more than a week against a ferocious Russian-backed offensive by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces.
Operations by YPG forces and their allies in northern Syria the past few days have complicated the defenses of the Western-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA) and Islamist militias. Syrian rebels accuse the YPG of coordinating with the Assad government and acting as a spoiler tactically.Rebel commanders say YPG fighters are now in parts of Azaz just six kilometers from the border with Turkey. The YPG is in effect the armed wing of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), which in turn is an offshoot of Turkey’s outlawed Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK). Turkey considers both the PYD and PKK as terrorist groups.