Syrian Kurds responded to accusations from Turkey on Thursday, saying that Russia will use its air power to bomb any Turkish troops who cross the border to fight them, and promising an incursion would lead to a “big war” across the region.
Responding to Turkish accusations that Syria’s YPG Kurdish militia teamed up with the PKK separatists in Turkey to carry out the Ankara bombing, Kurdish envoy to Moscow Rodi Osman said his people “take this threat very seriously, because the ruling party in Turkey is a party of war.”
“Russia will respond if there is an invasion. This isn’t only about the Kurds, they will defend the territorial sovereignty of Syria,” Osman continued, as reported by Bloomberg News.
“We are continuing to liberate our territory and it would go faster if it wasn’t for Turkey,” Osman complained. This “liberation of territory” is exactly what has the Turks lobbing artillery shells across the border at Kurdish positions, fearing that a breakaway Kurdish state might form across Syrian and Turkish territory.
Osman had at least some Russian backing for his warning to Turkey. Former Federal Security Service head Nikolai Kovalyov flatly stating that Russian jets will attack Turkish troops entering Syria. On a more official level, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said such a Turkish incursion would be “illegal,” but hedged on exactly what the Russian response would be.
The Bloomberg report pictures a strong Russian-Kurdish alliance forming after Turkey shot down a Russian warplane in November, with Russia providing both ammunition and air support for Kurdish forces. It also confirms long-held suspicions that the Kurds are not particularly interested in rebelling against Syrian dictator Bashar Assad.
In fact, the Kurds are said to be actively working with Syrian regime forces, according to former Syrian Deputy Prime Minister and current opposition leader Qadri Jamil, who is himself of Kurdish extraction.
The Obama Administration also put in a good word for its Syrian Kurdish allies, with State Department spokesman John Kirby declaring that “some of the strongest fighters against Daesh inside Syria have been Kurdish fighters.” Daesh is a derogatory name for the Islamic State.
“The side that we all need to be on here is the counter-Daesh side,” added Kirby, as reported by the Washington Post. He said the United States considered responsibility for the Ankara bombing “an open question.”