Turkey have open-fired on Kurdish YPG militia and Russian troops operating within the Syrian-Turkish border, as military tensions escalates between Russia and Turkey in Syria.
Turkey have asked the United States for military assistance in a ground operation as Russian troops advance closer to its borders.
A large-scale joint ground operation is still unlikely: Washington has ruled out a major offensive. But the request shows how swiftly a Russian-backed advance in recent weeks has transformed a conflict that has drawn in most regional and global powers.
Syrian government forces made fresh advances on Tuesday, as did Kurdish militia, both at the expense of rebels whose positions have been collapsing in recent weeks in the face of the Russian-backed onslaught.
The offensive, supported by Iranian-backed Shi’ite militias as well as Russian air strikes, has brought the Syrian army to within 25 km (15 miles) of Turkey’s frontier, while Kurdish fighters, regarded by Turkey as hostile insurgents, have extended their presence along the border.
The advances have increased the risk of a military confrontation between Russia and Turkey. Turkish artillery returned fire into Syria for a fourth straight day on Tuesday, the defence minister said, targeting the Kurdish YPG militia which Ankara says is being backed by Moscow.
“We want a ground operation. If there is a consensus, Turkey will take part. Without a ground operation it is impossible to stop this war,” a Turkish official told reporters at a briefing in Istanbul.
“Turkey is not going to have a unilateral ground operation … We are discussing this with allies.”
Turkey on Monday accused Russia of an “obvious war crime” after missile attacks in northern Syria killed scores of people, and warned the YPG it would face the “harshest reaction” if it tried to capture a town near the Turkish border.