The Turkish military has been shelling Syrian government forces in Aleppo and Latakia , while also hitting Kurdish fighters near the city of Azaz in northwestern Syria.
This is a serious escalation that will likely prompt a Russian response.
The air base that had recently been retaken from Islamist rebels was struck a massive attack.
According to RT: Anatolia news agency reported that the Turkish military hit Syrian government forces on Saturday, adding that the shelling had been in response to fire inflicted on a Turkish military guard post in Turkey’s southern Hatay region.
Turkish artillery targeted Syrian forces again late on Saturday, according to a military source quoted by RIA Novosti. The attack targeted the town of Deir Jamal in the Aleppo Governorate.
“Turkey’s artillery opened fire on the positions of the Syrian Army in the vicinity of Aliya mountain in the northwestern part of the province of Latakia,” the source said.The agency also cited details of an earlier attack on Syrian government army positions in northwestern Latakia.
Meanwhile, the Turkish shelling of Kurdish positions continued for more than three hours almost uninterruptedly, a Kurdish source told RT, adding that the Turkish forces are using mortars and missiles and firing from the Turkish border not far from the city of Azaz in the Aleppo Governorate.
The shelling targeted the Menagh military air base and the nearby village of Maranaz, where “many civilians were wounded,” local journalist Barzan Iso told RT. He added that Kurdish forces and their allies among “the Syrian democratic forces” had taken control of the air base on Thursday.
According to Iso, the Menagh base had previously been controlled by the Ahrar ash-Sham Islamist rebel group, which seized it in August of 2013. The journalist also added that Ahrar ash-Sham militants at the base had been supported by Al-Nusra terrorists and some extremist groups coming from Turkey.
Ahrar ash-Sham is a militant group that has trained teenagers to commit acts of terror in Damascus, Homs, and Latakia provinces, according to data provided to the Russian Defense Ministry by Syrian opposition forces.
The group, which has intensified its attacks on the Syrian government forces since January, was getting “serious reinforcements from Turkey,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said during a briefing in Moscow on January 21.
The United States has called on Turkey to halt military strikes on the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) and the Syrian Army.
State Department spokesman John Kirby said: “We are concerned about the situation north of Aleppo and are working to de-escalate tensions on all sides”
Kirby said that Turkey and the Syrian Kurdish fighters must work together as they share the same serious threat of Daesh/ISIS in northern Syria.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had warned the US last week that it needed todecide who their ally was, Turkey or the Syrian Kurds