ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Turkey’s prime minister said Friday that Syrian Kurds have been warned against taking “wrong and dangerous” steps toward Kurdish autonomy in Syria, a move Turkey is afraid could bolster Kurdish separatists within its own borders.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan said a Turkish official made the warning to Saleh Muslim, the leader of a Syrian Kurdish militant group, who met Turkish intelligence officials in Turkey.
Syrian Kurdish militants affiliated with Turkey’s own autonomy-seeking Kurdish rebels have been strengthening their power in areas bordering Turkey and are reportedly aiming to form an autonomous region. Turkey fears that could reinforce long-standing demands for an independent homeland by Turkey’s own Kurdish population and derail newly launched peace efforts between Turkey and Kurdish rebels.
The Syrian Kurdish group took control of the town of Ras al-Ayn on the border with Turkey after fighting radical Islamic groups last week.
Erdogan said: “The necessary warning was made that the steps they are taking are wrong and dangerous.”
Also Friday, a mortar shell fired from Syria landed on Turkish territory, killing a farm laborer who was working on a field near the frontier, Turkey’s state-run TRT television reported. The farm worker was the third victim in the town of Ceylanpinar of fighting between Kurdish gunmen and the Syrian rebels. Two teenagers died after being hit by stray bullets last week.
Two other people working the field near Ceylanpinar were injured.