Turkish forces shell Kurdish-held air base in northern Syria


YPG reports artillery attack on Menagh military airbase, which Kurdish fighters seized from Nusra Front earlier this week

A YPG fighter stands guard at a post near the Syria-Turkey border (AFP)
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Last update: 
Sunday 14 February 2016 11:00 UTC

Turkish forces were on Saturday reported to have shelled an airbase in northwestern Syria seized earlier this week by Kurdish forces from the Nusra Front.

The Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) said that the Menagh military air base, about six kilometres south of the town of Azaz in Syria’s north-western province of Aleppo, had been targeted by Turkish artillery forces.

There were no immediate reports of casualties, although local news sites said ambulances had been seen heading for the scene.

The YPG seized the base from Nusra Front, al-Qaeda's affiliate in Syria which has been fighting alongside other rebel groups in northern Syria, on 10 February, following Russian air strikes in the area in support of pro-government Syria.

The Syrian government has been waging a major offensive around Azaz in an effort to cut off opposition supply lines to Aleppo, Syria's largest city, from Turkey.

Ankara considers the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) and its YPG militia to be branches of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which has waged a decades-long separatist campaign against the Turkish state.

The Turkish military on Saturday hit targets of the PYD and the Syrian government in two separate incidents in response to incoming fire, the state-run Anatolia news agency reported.

Turkey shelled targets of the PYD around the town of Azaz in Aleppo province, Anatolia said, citing a military source. The army also responded to Syrian government fire on a Turkish military guard post in the southern Hatay region, it said.

Earlier on Saturday, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said Turkey would, if necessary, take military action against fighters from the PYD.

"We can if necessary take the same measures in Syria as we took in Iraq and Qandil," Davutoglu said in a televised speech in the eastern city of Erzincan, referring to the relentless bombing campaign last year against PKK targets in northern Iraq on their Qandil mountain stronghold.

"We would expect our friends and allies to stand by us," he added.