Erdogan: Will Turkey stop shelling anti-ISIL Kurdish forces in Syria? No way

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President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Turkey will not cease its attacks on Kurdish forces even though the Kurds have been the only consistently effective ground force against common foe Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL).

Erdogan on Feb. 17 said Turkey would continue shelling Kurdish targets in Syria to prevent the creation of a Kurdish stronghold in the northern part of the embattled country.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan. /AFP
Recep Tayyip Erdogan. /AFP

“We will not allow a new Qandil on our southern border” with Syria, Erdogan said in a televised speech in Ankara, referring to the mountain in northern Iraq which for years has been a stronghold of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).

After four consecutive days of attacks, Erdogan said “they (the West) tell us to stop shelling. Forgive me, but there is no question of us doing such a thing.”

Kurdish forces have had several battlefield successes against ISIL while other ground forces have struggled. ISIL has also launched deadly terror attacks in border areas as well as inside Turkey.

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu made similar comments last week in a meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Davutoglu said the Kurds’ drive to establish a stronghold in northern Syria was aimed at uprooting “hundreds of thousands of Syrian civilians” from the border region and “creating a new humanitarian crisis.”

“This is aimed not just at Turkey but also the European Union,” he said, warning of a “new wave of hundreds of thousands of refugees.”