Turkey says 'not targeting Syrian Kurds' after villages hit

AFP , Monday 27 Jul 2015

The Turkish military are not targeting Syrian Kurds after Kurdish forces and a monitoring group said tanks shelled Kurdish-held villages in northern Syria, a Turkish government official said on Monday.

"The ongoing military operation seeks to neutralise imminent threats to Turkey's national security and continues to target ISIS in Syria and the PKK in Iraq," the official told AFP, referring to the Islamic State and the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party.

He said the Syrian Kurdish "PYD, along with others, remains outside the scope of the current military effort."

In a statement, the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) said Turkish tanks hit its positions and those of allied Arab rebels in the village of Zur Maghar in Aleppo province.

The "heavy tank fire" wounded four members of the allied rebel force and several villagers, the YPG said.

It said there was a second, later round of shelling against Zur Maghar and another village in the same area.

The Turkish official, speaking on condition of anonymity, also said: "We are investigating claims that the Turkish military engaged positions held by forces other than ISIS."

Turkey has launched a two-pronged "anti-terror" cross-border offensive against jihadists and the PKK militants after a wave of violence in the country, pounding their positions with air strikes and artillery.

Early on Monday, Turkish police detained 15 people with suspected links to the Islamic State in the Hacibayram district of the capital Ankara, the state-run Anatolia news agency reported.

Eleven of the 15 detainees were foreigners, Anatolia said, adding that the operation was backed by around 500 police officers who raided several addresses.

The Turkish official told AFP the operations against IS and PKK were continuing, adding that a total of 900 people had been detained so far with links to the IS, PKK and other leftist organisations.

"We are fighting against all terrorist organisations," said the official.

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