January 23, 2018 / 11:27 AM / a year ago

Turkish shelling kills three in Syrian town: Kurdish YPG

BEIRUT (Reuters) - Turkish shelling has killed three people in the Syrian town of Ras al-Ayn, the spokesman for the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia said on Tuesday, pointing to the risk of widening hostilities along the Turkish-Syrian border.

Turkey has launched a major offensive against the U.S.-backed YPG militia, which controls large parts of northern Syria. Ankara sees the group as an extension of a Kurdish group that has waged a decades-long insurgency inside Turkey.

Ras al-Ayn is located in Syrian Kurdish-controlled territory some 300 km (190 miles) east of the Afrin region where the Turkish army launched its offensive four days ago.

Ras al-Ayn was one of several locations in northeastern Syria targeted in cross-border attacks from Turkey on Monday, YPG spokesman Nouri Mahmoud said. He could not confirm if the people killed in Monday’s shelling were fighters or civilians.

The YPG is the military backbone of Kurdish-led autonomous regions that have emerged in northern Syria since the outbreak of that country’s civil war in 2011. The YPG has been a key U.S. ally in the campaign against Islamic State in Syria.

Turkey views the YPG as an extension of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which is listed as a terrorist group by the United States, the European Union and Turkey.

Writing by Tom Perry; Editing by Gareth Jones

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