The Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) on Feb. 14 rejected Turkish demands to withdraw from positions near the border, and warned that Syrians would resist any Turkish intervention in the country.
Salih Muslim, the co-chair of the PYD, told Reuters that Turkey had no right to intervene in Syria’s internal affairs, adding that an air base shelled by the Turkish army on Feb. 13 had been in the hands of the al-Qaeda-linked al-Nusra Front until forces allied to the PYD captured it last week.
“Do they [Turkey] want the Nusra Front to stay there, or for the regime to come and occupy it?” Muslim said by telephone.
Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu on Feb. 13 demanded the PYD withdraw from areas north of Aleppo which he said had been captured by the Kurdish group. Asked if he rejected that demand, Muslim said: “Of course.”
Muslim said the air base was captured by the PYD-allied Syria Democratic Forces, which includes Arabs and Turkmen alongside Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) militants.
He added that if Turkey intervened in Syria they would find “the entire Syrian people confronting them.”
Turkey on Feb. 13 demanded YPG militants withdraw from areas that it had captured from militants in Syria in the northern Aleppo region in recent days, including the Menagh air base. The Turkish shelling has targeted those areas.
Turkey has been alarmed by the expansion of Kurdish sway in northern Syria since the start of the conflict in 2011. The YPG nearly controls Syria’s entire northern frontier with Turkey, and has been a close ally of the United States in the campaign against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Syria.
Ankara views the group as an extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).