Kurds’ rapid advances in Syria spark Turkey's fears
ISTANBUL - Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned against any plans for an autonomous Kurdish region in northern Syria as officials met the leader of the war-torn country's main Kurdish group Friday.
Turkish government officials held talks with Saleh Muslim, the leader of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) which is seen as the Syrian branch of Turkey's banned Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).
Erdogan confirmed press reports of the meeting and said the PYD's "dangerous actions" would be on the agenda.
"They will be given the necessary warnings," said the prime minister, whose government is negotiating an end to the three-decade insurgency by the PKK.
Syrian Kurds made rapid advances in the north earlier this week, expelling jihadists from a string of villages, as mistrust between Kurds and Arabs grows.
Fighting hit a series of ethnically mixed villages in the northern province of Raqa on the border with Turkey, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
The latest violence in those areas has resulted in the death of three people on the Turkish side of the border, killed by stray bullets of shells.
While Muslim's PYD has announced plans for a temporary autonomous state in Kurdish areas, the jihadists seek the creation of an Islamic state across Syria.
Kurds make up 10 percent of Syria's total population, with most living in the north of the embattled country.
Since the outbreak of the revolt against President Bashar al-Assad more than two years ago, most Kurds have tried to ensure that their territory remained free of violence.
In mid-2012, Assad's forces withdrew from majority Kurdish areas, and Kurdish militia became responsible for security there.
Although many Kurds are hostile to a regime that has oppressed them for decades, they have also tried to keep the rebels out of the areas they control in order to avoid sparking a confrontation with the army.