Syrian President Bashar al-Assad accused of arming Kurdish separatists for attacks against Turkish government

 

Beirut

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has been accused of arming
Kurdish separatists who have stepped up attacks against the Turkish government
- meddling that has the potential to lead to a major inflammation of the
conflict outside war-ravaged Syria. 

Sporadic clashes have broken out between the Turkish government and militants from the Kurdish Workers Party (PKK) in recent weeks, with one soldier killed and at least 11 injured in an ambush on a military bus in the western province of Izmir today.

"Assad gave them weapons support… this is not a fantasy,” Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu told local media. “We have taken necessary measures against this threat."

Since the outbreak of fighting in Aleppo, Assad has pulled his troops out of towns in Syrian Kurdistan, leaving them in control of the PKK-linked Democratic Union Party (PYD), a move that angered Turkey as it fears that could invigorate its Kurdish militants.

With at least one-in-six of Turkey’s citizens Kurdish, there are fears that Ankara, which makes frequent cross-border raids into Iraqi territory to seek out PKK militants, may be driven to undertake similar action into Syria.

Assad has resorted to extreme tactics to cling on to power as high-level defections pressure the regime. He today appointed a replacement for defected prime minister Riad Hijab who fled to Jordan denouncing Assad’s “genocide”.

In appointing Wael Nader al-Halqi, from the province of Daraa, the President continued the long-standing tradition of giving the position to a Sunni muslim, a move designed to appease the majority, though the role holds little power.

In Tehran, foreign minister Ali Akbar Salehi called for “serious and inclusive” talks between the government and opposition groups after representatives from more than 25 nations, including Russia, China, Algeria and Venezuela, met to discuss the crisis. All those in attendance had given at least tacit support to Assad by restraining to call for him to step aside and Iranian state television described it as a conference of “friends” of Syria - a dig at the “Friends of Syria” group made up of Western and Arab nations who want see Assad leave.

Complicating Iran’s involvement in the issue is the fate of 48 of its nationals kidnapped near Damascus, who rebels say were there to fight for the regime. Iran claims that the men are pilgrims, but they booked their travel into Syria through an agency owned by the elite Revolutionary Guard Corps, and Tehran has admitted that some were former military personnel. Contrary to earlier reports that three died in an airstrike, all the men are alive, a foreign ministry official said yesterday.

News
Richard Dawkins dedicated his book 'The Greatest Show on Earth' to Josh Timonen
newsThat's Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome
Extras
indybest
Life and Style
food + drink
Life and Style
fashionLidl to launch a new affordable fashion range
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Web Analyst – Permanent – West Sussex – Up to £43k

£35000 - £43000 Per Annum plus excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions...

SQL DBA/Developer

£500 per day: Harrington Starr: SQL DBA/Developer
 SQL, C#, VBA, Linux, SQL Se...

.NET Developer

£650 per day: Harrington Starr: C#.NET Developer ASP.Net, C#.net, WCF, WPF, .N...

Principal Arboricultural Consultant

£35000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: Principal Arboricu...

Day In a Page

Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home
Lauded therapist Harley Mille still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Lauded therapist still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Australian Harley Miller is as frustrated by court delays as she is with the idiosyncrasies of immigration law
Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world. But could his predictions of war do the same?

Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world...

But could his predictions of war do the same?
Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs: 'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs
Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities, but why?

Young at hort

Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities. But why are so many people are swapping sweaty clubs for leafy shrubs?
Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award: 'making a quip as funny as possible is an art'

Beyond a joke

Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award, has nigh-on 200 in his act. So how are they conceived?
The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

Sadly though, the Lawrence of Arabia star is not around to lend his own critique
Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire: The joy of camping in a wetland nature reserve and sleeping under the stars

A wild night out

Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire offers a rare chance to camp in a wetland nature reserve
Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition: It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans

Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition

It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans
Besiktas vs Arsenal: Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie

Besiktas vs Arsenal

Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie
Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

As the Northern Irishman prepares for the Barclays, he finds time to appear on TV in the States, where he’s now such a global superstar that he needs no introduction
Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to Formula One

Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to F1

The 16-year-old will become the sport’s youngest-ever driver when he makes his debut for Toro Rosso next season
Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

But belated attempts to unite will be to no avail if the Sunni caliphate remains strong in Syria, says Patrick Cockburn
Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I would end up killing myself in jail'

Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I'd end up killing myself in jail'

Following last week's report on prison suicides, the former inmate asks how much progress we have made in the 50 years since the abolition of capital punishment