Turkey Confirms Strikes Against Kurdish Militias in SyriaThe New York Times
ISTANBUL — Turkey has confirmed that it struck positions in Syria held by Kurdish militias that over the last year have become the most important allies within Syria of the American-led coalition fighting the Islamic State.
The confirmation of the strikes, which the Kurds said took place over the weekend, adds a new level of complexity to the United States’ struggle to put together a coherent strategy to fight the Islamic State in Syria. It also increases tensions between the United States and Turkey, which are nominally allies in the battle against the militant group, but whose interests diverge substantially.
In an interview on a Turkish news channel Monday night, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu of Turkey did not specify when the strikes had taken place, but he said they came after Ankara warned Kurdish fighters not to move west of the Euphrates River.
“We struck them twice,” Mr. Davutoglu said.
The Turkish strikes were in Tal Abyad, a largely Arab border town that the Kurds captured from the Islamic State over the summer. The strikes appear to have been limited — they were said to involve machine-gun fire from across the border and did not seem to cause much damage — but they could suggest a new determination by Turkey to expand military operations against the American-allied group.
Turkey has long considered the Syrian Kurdish group known as the Democratic Union Party, or P.Y.D., as an enemy because it is the Syrian offshoot of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, which has long fought an insurgency against the Turkish state.
The armed wing of the P.Y.D., the People’s Protection Units, said in a statement that Turkey had struck its positions in Tal Abyad on Saturday and Sunday, and that a separate Turkish attack, on Sunday in the village of Buban, had wounded two civilians.
The group has accused Turkey of targeting it on several occasions, but Mr. Davutoglu’s comments on Monday were the first time Turkey acknowledged doing so.
The limited Turkish strikes came after the P.Y.D. declared last week that Tal Abyad was part of an autonomous region in northern Syria that the Kurds call Rojava. Turkey views the development as a national security threat because it could inflame separatist sentiments among its own Kurds.
The government had already renewed fighting in July with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or P.K.K., both in Turkey and in Iraq, where the group has camps in the mountains of the north. But Turkey had, for a time, seemed to turn a blind eye to Syria’s Kurds because of their growing relationship with the United States, which had argued that the P.Y.D. should be regarded as separate from the P.K.K., even though the groups have close ties and a shared socialist ideology.
Turkey now seems intent on viewing the two groups as one and the same. In recent weeks, it has sharply criticized United States support for the Syrian Kurds, which began last year during the battle for the city of Kobani.
The situation grew more complicated recently when Russia began military operations in Syria, largely in support of the Syrian government of President Bashar al-Assad, which Turkey has sought to oust through its support of rebel groups.
Russia’s ties to the P.K.K. and the P.Y.D. date to the days of the Soviet Union, and it is believed to be offering support to Syrian Kurds.
To register its displeasure, Turkey recently summoned the ambassadors of Russia and the United States to raise concerns over support to the Syrian Kurds.
This coincided with a move that alarmed Turkey, an American airdrop of 50 tons of ammunition in northern Syria to a coalition of Arab and Kurdish fighters who were preparing to battle the Islamic State near its Syrian stronghold of Raqqa.