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Kurdish rebel group calls for no-fly zone

Appeal follows Turkish air raids in Syria and Iraq

US-BACKED guerillas called yesterday for the enforcement of a no-fly zone over northern Syria in response to Tuesday’s air raids by Turkey.

The political wing of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) — dominated by the Kurdish YPG militia — issued the appeal the day after Turkish jets blitzed the Karachok area of north-eastern Syria and Sinjar in neighbouring Iraq.

Syrian Democratic Council co-president Ilham Ahmad said local SDF commanders had asked the US to prevent Turkish and Syrian jets flying over Rojava, the Kurdish-controlled zone of northern Syria.

The call echoed that of US hawks such as Hillary Clinton and Senator John McCain, though cooler heads warned that it could lead to war with Russia.

In al-Malikiyah, thousands of residents protested yesterday against Turkey’s bombing of the town, the ANHA news agency reported.

And the Syrian Foreign Ministry denounced Turkey’s “blatant aggression,” branding it a violation of international law and the United Nations Charter.

Ankara claimed it had targeted militants of the banned Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) who were preparing attacks in Turkey.

But the YPG said 20 of its guerillas had been killed in the attacks around Karachok, including 12 from its women’s wing the YPJ.

The YPJ argued that the raid by Nato-member Turkey could not have occurred without the knowledge of the USled Operation Inherent Resolve coalition.

“The coalition’s silence is proof and approval of this,” it said, adding that Turkey’s aim was to disrupt the SDF offensive against the Isis stronghold of Raqqa.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavosoglu confirmed that suspicion yesterday, telling reporters: “We told the US, our ally, directly that we would conduct the operation. We told them to move their forces 20-30 km to the south.”

But on Tuesday, US State Department spokesman Mark Toner claimed that Turkey had bombed Syria and Iraq “without proper co-ordination either with the United States or the broader global coalition to defeat Isis.”

“These air strikes were not approved by the coalition and led to the unfortunate loss of life of our partner forces in the fight against Isis that includes members of the Kurdish Peshmerga,” he said.

Mr Toner acknowledged Turkey’s “legitimate concerns about the PKK,” but he aid the State Department had expressed its own concerns to Ankara over the raid.

He tried to allay Turkish concerns about the SDF’s dominance of northern Syria by saying it was “75 per cent Syrian Arab.”

Yesterday, Turkey claimed YPG forces in the north-west Syrian enclave of Afrin had attacked two of its military border posts in Hatay province with mortar fire.

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