3 min read  | Aleppo, Politics, Reports

SDF spox denies YPG involvement in Ankara bombing: ‘We do not use the methods of terrorist groups’


February 18, 2016

AMMAN: A spokesman with the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) denied Turkey’s accusations that the YPG was responsible for the previous day’s Ankara car bombing, on Thursday telling Syria Direct that “we do not use the methods of terrorist groups.”

A car bomb targeting a military convoy near the parliament building in the Turkish capital city Ankara killed 28 people on Wednesday, mostly military personnel, and injured 61 others.

In a statement Thursday, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu accused a Syrian member of the YPG, the armed wing of the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), of conspiring with members of the banned Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in Turkey to carry out the attack.

In the same statement, Davutoglu also held the Syrian regime responsible for the bombing. “The YPG is a tool of the Syrian regime and the regime is directly responsible for the attack,” the prime minister said Thursday. “The right to take all kinds of measures against the Syrian regime is reserved.”

The US has backed YPG forces and their Sunni Arab allies making up the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in northern Syria with weapons and airstrikes since last October. Turkey and the United States consider the PKK a terrorist organization while only Turkey labels the PYD party in Syria a terrorist group.

Ongoing US support for the YPG has recently strained relations with Turkey. Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday said that he hoped the bombing would bring “our friends in the international community to understand how tight the PYD and YPG’s connection to the PKK is.”

The YPG denies responsibility for Wednesday’s bombing.

In the past two weeks, the multiethnic SDF took advantage of a Russian-supported regime offensive to expand Kurdish-held territories near the Turkish border at the expense of other rebel groups. This past Saturday, Turkey began shelling positions held by the SDF in northern Aleppo.

Tareq Abu Zeid, a rebel spokesman fighting with the SDF in northern Aleppo said the allied forces had “all the possible options to respond to the Turkish shelling of their positions in Syria,” in an interview with Syria Direct this past Saturday.

On Thursday, however, both Arab and Kurdish components of the SDF denied involvement in the Ankara bombing, while warning against its possible use by Turkish forces as a justification for escalating military operations in Syria.

“We reject these accusations and we condemn this act,” SDF spokesman Tareq Abu Zeid told Syria Direct on Thursday. The coalition condemned the Ankara bombing, which it called an “inhuman act” in a video posted online on Thursday.

“We do not want a real battle with Turkey and we do not use the methods of terrorist groups,” Abu Zeid, also a spokesman for Jaish al-Thuwar, a coalition of mostly former FSA brigades that fights alongside the Kurdish YPG in northern Aleppo added. “The Islamic State, first and foremost, is responsible for operations like these.”

Accusing Syrian Kurdish forces of responsibility for the Ankara bombing allows the Turkish government “to justify its strikes in Syria, especially amidst international pressure on Turkey to stop its bombardment,” Akram Saleh, a Kurdish journalist currently embedded with the YPG in northeastern Al-Hasakah province told Syria Direct on Thursday.

Responding to Turkish bombardment of US-backed Kurdish and Arab SDF forces in northern Aleppo over the weekend, US Vice President Joe Biden previously urged “Turkey to show reciprocal restraint by ceasing artillery strikes in the area.” 

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