Rift between Ankara and Washington widening

Five Turkish soldiers were wounded on the outskirts of the border town of Ras al-Ayn, in an attack carried out by Kurdish YPG militants, it was announced today by the Turkish Defense Ministry, after the Kurdish militia accused Ankara of attacking first.

The attack was carried out using unmanned aircraft, mortars and light weapons, the ministry said in a statement, adding that Turkish forces responded to the attacks in self-defense.

In another development, Turkey criticized the United States for treating the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Forces (SDF) commander as a “legitimate political person”, underlining continued tension with Washington despite Ankara halting its offensive in Syria.

US Republican and Democratic senators have urged the State Department to issue a passport to the commander, General Mazlum Kompani, quickly, so that he can visit the US and discuss the situation in Syria. Ankara considers Mazlum a terrorist, linked closely to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has been fighting in Turkey for decades.

“We are deeply concerned about the treatment of Mazlum … This person is a senior PKK leader, whom the United States and others regard as a terrorist organization, and a fugitive,” said Fahrettin Altun, the communications director of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

“An Interpol red signal is pending against him. Mazlum is wanted for multiple terrorist attacks targeting Turkish security forces, NATO troops as well as civilians,” Altun told Reuters.