Most recently, Syrian Kurds with Russian air support have made significant advances north of Aleppo, changing the power balance in Syria against Turkey. The YPG has also raised the hackles of the Turkish government by capturing the strategic Menagh air base from opposition elements, triggering intense Turkish shelling of the Syrian town of Azaz.
Turkey’s shelling of YPG targets was so effective that the UN Security Council felt obliged to express concern about Turkey’s actions. Also, the US State Department, France and European Union foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini have all called on Turkey to stop.
Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu was startlingly quick to blame the YPG. Less than half a day after the blast, Davutoglu announced the alleged assailant’s name as Saleh Najjar, a Syrian Kurd and alleged YPG member who had been in Turkey since July 2014, when he entered as a refugee.
The revelation was somewhat bizarre. Turkey’s security establishment, while unable to prevent the massive terrorist attack, was able to identify the suspect with stunning speed.
The rhetoric Davutoglu used while announcing the identity of the alleged bomber and blaming the YPG without question gave the impression that the Turkish government was trying to use the terrorist attack to legitimize its actions against the PYD/YPG in Syria.
On the morning of the blast, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) again lashed out at the US administration, calling on it to decide who its ally is in this conflict, Turkey or the “terrorist” PYD/YPG.
Immediately after blaming the YPG for the attack, Davutoglu said, “After this, we hope our allies will see the YPG as the extension of the terrorist organization PKK. … Those who see an organization that is the enemy of Turkey as friendly will lose Turkey’s friendship.”
It took less than an hour for PYD leader Salih Muslim to reject Davutoglu’s claims. Muslim told international news agencies that his organization has no member by that name.
“The bomb might have been exploded to provoke military intervention in Syria. The bombing is part of the aggression started by the AKP. The AKP wants to complete its series of aggressions with a military intervention in Syria,” Muslim told Istanbul-based independent news website T24.
The YPG also denied the allegation, issuing a communiqué the same day. The group reiterated that it has never engaged in any military operation in any neighboring country or against anyone except terrorist groups that have attacked it, referring to IS and Jabhat al-Nusra, al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria. The YPG also accused the Turkish authorities of distorting the facts.