September 6th, 2016 (AL-WAQF, SYRIA) – Two weeks after Turkey began operations in Syria to fight the Islamic State (ISIS), they suffered their first casualties. Two Turkish soldiers were killed with another five wounded in a recent rocket attack according to the Turkish army and two fighters from the Free Syrian Army, a rebel group backed by Turkey, were also killed with another two injured.
The rocket attack took place near the village of al-Waqf. Since the Turkish operations began, a number of villages have been liberated from ISIS control by the Free Syrian Army and the Turkish forces.
The Popular Protection Units (YPG), which is made up of Kurdish fighters, have also been very effective in the area. In fact, the YPG has been praised by the international community as being the most effective forces in the battle against ISIS, driving them out of key locations like the crossroads town of Manbij in Syria this past month.
Besides fighting the Islamic State in Syria these past two weeks, Turkey has been targeting the Kurdish YPG militia. Kurdish forces have called for aid from the United Nations, United States (US), and the European Union (EU) in stopping the aggressions from Turkey. The US has both urged Turkey to stop aggression and encouraged the YPG to stop expanding beyond already-held territories in their fight against ISIS.
Turkey is urging the international community to view the YPG as connected to the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which has been officially recognized as a terrorist organization by the US and the EU. The PKK has been fighting the government of Turkey for independence since the 1980s. A ceasefire between Turkey and the terrorist group ended last year and clashes since then have resulted in the loss of hundreds of lives.
The conflict is being closely monitored by the international community and, despite shelling from Turkish forces, the Kurdish militia has remained a strong ally in the fight against ISIS.