People’s Defense Units (YPG) and an al-Qaeda-linked group engaged in a fierce fight yesterday near the Turkish border town of Ceylanpınar in the southeast’s Şanlıurfa, reports said. The YPG, the militant wing of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) allegedly linked to Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), reportedly took control of the Ras al-Ayn-Ceylanpınar border gate amid other clashes between the YPG and the al-Qaeda-linked al-Nusra Front that have been continuing since July 16.
Turkey, meanwhile, returned fire into Syrian territory after shots fired from the Syrian side during the PYD-al-Nusra battle struck Ceylanpınar.
Kurdish fighters “have taken near-total control of Ras al-Ayn after fierce battles that have raged since [July 16] evening, pitting [Kurds] against the al-Nusra Front, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria and other groups,” said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. The clashes between Kurdish fighters and jihadists broke out after al-Nusra attacked a convoy of Kurdish women fighters, said observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman. Nine jihadists and two Kurdish fighters have been killed since battles erupted in the town on July 16, he said.
The Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) said the parties to the clash were the “separatist terrorist organization” and “opponents.” There are also some reports claiming that the PYD is fighting the Free Syrian Army (FSA), the armed wing of the Syrian opposition.
Meanwhile, two people were killed by stray bullets fired from Syrian side in border town Ceylanpınar.
Mahsun Ertuğrul, 17, died in hospital after being shot in the chest yesterday morning, after clashes erupted on the Syrian side.
A 15-year-old boy from the same town, Ahmet Gündüz, was also confirmed as having died from wounds inflicted yesterday. Gündüz was shot in the head and was taken to the intensive care unit at the Balıklıgöl State Hospital in Şanlıurfa, but could not be saved.
Response prompted by two rocket projectiles that hit border post: Turkish army
The Turkish Armed Forces said in a statement that two rocket projectiles hit a border post in Ceylanpınar during clashes between PYD and al-Nusra, prompting a response according to the rules of engagement. The statement also added that the projectiles came from the PYD’s stations and that the attack only caused material damages.
“After the attack, fire was opened on the PYD’s stations with infantry rifle, machine guns and mortar fire. We don’t have any information yet if the fire caused any casualties,” the statement said.
It also added that the clashes in Ras al-Ayn across from Ceylanpınar ended around 3:30 p.m.
“It was reported that the [Ras al-Ayn] district has been captured by the separatist PYD forces. As the clashes were ongoing, the personnel of the border post were evacuated to the border company’s center 15-20 meters away and the security of the border post was taken over by the tactical wheeled armored vehicles which are deployed to the north of the border post. The developments are being watched,” the statement also said.
In an earlier brief statement under the title of “Important Border Incidents,” the Armed Forces had said that the TSK’s Cenkeser border outpost reciprocated against the region in the Syrian territory from which fire was opened, according to rules of engagement,
Turkey has carried out a series of retaliatory strikes against President Bashar al-Assad’s forces fighting rebels along the border since Syrian shelling killed five Turkish civilians in Akçakale, which is in Şanlıurfa like Ceylanpınar, in October 2012.