Syria threatens to down Turkish jets over its Kurdish region

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Thu, 18 Jan 2018 - 02:59 GMT

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad as seen in Damascus, Syria November 14, 2017. SANA/Handout via REUTERS

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad as seen in Damascus, Syria November 14, 2017. SANA/Handout via REUTERS

DAMASCUS - 18 January 2018: Syria said its air defense would shoot down any Turkish jets that carry out attacks within Syria, a stark warning as tensions soar over apparent preparations by the Turkish military to invade a northern Syrian Kurdish enclave.

From Damascus, Deputy Foreign Minister Faysal Mekdad said a military incursion into Syria's Kurdish-controlled enclave of Afrin would be "no picnic" for Turkey, according to ABC News on Thursday.

Any such operation would be considered an "aggressive act," Mekdad said.

The escalation comes after the United States disclosed plans to form a 30,000-strong border force in Syria led by the Kurdish-dominated Syrian Democratic Forces in the wake of the victory over the Daesh group. Turkey reacted angrily to the announcement.

Turkey regards the Syrian Kurdish militia that controls Afrin and other areas along its frontier as an extension of the Kurdish insurgency within its borders and wants to prevent the establishment of a Kurdish corridor along the frontier.

The US has developed close ties with the Kurdish militia over the shared fight against Daesh and keeps bases in northeast Syria with the Kurds. But it is not believed to maintain any American forces in Afrin, an enclave that is not linked to the bulk of Kurdish-run territory in Syria.

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