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A dangerous showdown is unfolding in the Syrian town of Azaz, near the border with Turkey, as Russian-based Syrian forces advance and Syrian Kurds step in to take over territory abandoned by rebels, with Turkey threatening open fire on the Kurds.
The northern Syrian town of Azaz is fast becoming the flashpoint for a wider war as Turkey launches military action against the Syrian Kurd YGP militia and to destroy the Syrian Menagh air base if the Kurds refused to withdraw.
The situation in the area has intensified over the weekend as Syrian rebel forces have lost ground to the Syrian military and the Syrian Kurds have taken advantage of the chaos to seize territory ostensibly in order to keep the Islamic State (ISIS) from moving in.
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Syria accuses Turkey of deploying soldiers and mercenaries into northern Syria and of attempting to aid ISIS insurgents there. Turkey has denied the accusations.
Syria told the U.S. that “Turkish artillery shelling of Syrian territory constitutes direct support to the armed terrorist organizations.”
Turkey’s move to take on the Syrian Kurds goes directly against the U.S., which supports the YPG in the battle against ISIS.
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Ankara’s response comes as Russian air strikes, Syrian regime forces and Shi’ite militias come within 15 miles of the Turkish border.
Earlier today, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davuto?lu said that YPD’s militia would have taken control of the towns of Azaz and Tal Rifaat in the south if the Turks had not shelled the area over the weekend.
“The YPG elements were forced away from near Azaz. If they get closer again, they will see the harshest reaction. We will not allow Azaz to fall,” the prime minister said.
By Charles Kennedy of Oilprice.com
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Charles is a writer for Oilprice.com