UPDATE2: BREAKING: Turkish official says there will be a ‘massive escalation’ in Syria over next 24 hours

Please note: Erdogan’s Turkey is the first state of the ISSG group of nations to violate the cessation of hostilities agreed upon 48 hours ago in Munich – see my previous diaries:

UPDATE: Follow-up diary – Russia’s Medvedev Warns for New World War Sparked In Syria.

UPDATE: Previous diary – NATO Is Ready for Russia In Baltic States, Not In Syria.

Turkey shells YPG targets in northern Syria | Hürriyet Daily News |

Turkish artillery on Feb. 13 bombarded People’s Protection Units (YPG) targets in northern Syria, Turkish security sources has told private broadcaster CNNTürk.

The targets hit were near the town of Azaz in northern Syria, a Turkish government source told Reuters, without elaborating on the extent of the shelling or why it had been carried out.

“The Turkish Armed Forces fired shells at PYD positions in the Azaz area,” the source said, referring to the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), which Ankara regards as a terrorist organization.

YPG is the armed wing of PYD and is also considered a terror group by Turkey, which says both are extensions of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

The shelling came shortly after Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said Ankara would, if necessary, take military action against the PYD.

A YPG source told AFP that the Turkish shelling targeted the strategic Minnigh military airport, which Kurdish forces retook on Feb. 10.

“We can if necessary take the same measures in Syria as we took in Iraq and Kandil,” Davutoğlu said in a televised speech.

The Turkish premier was referring to the bombing campaign last year against PKK targets in northern Iraq on their Kandil mountain stronghold.

Gen. Petraeus tells Turkish generals ‘not to bomb Kandil Mountains’ | Today’s Zaman – May 2008 |

Split over PYD continues between US, Turkey | HDN |

The split between Ankara and Washington over the designation of the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) continues to rumble on, though U.S. Secretary of Defence Ash Carter has reiterated that allies “need not always agree” on all topics.

“We’re not going to agree with them on all matters [but] we staunchly agree with them – and always have – that we oppose terrorism in any form,” Carter said following a NATO defence ministers’ meeting in Brussels on Feb. 11, adding that Turkey was a good and long-standing ally of the U.S.

“We are working with local forces in defeating ISIL [the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant]; we [will] also continue working with Turkey,” Carter said.        

Carter convened the first-ever gathering of defence ministers of the global coalition against ISIL on Feb. 11 in Brussels. Participants from a total of 49 nations, including the 28 NATO allies, were invited to attend the meeting held in Brussels.

Ankara and Washington stand on opposing sides regarding the designation of the PYD and its military wing, the People’s Protection Units (YPG). While Turkey regards the PYD and the YPG as an offshoot of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), with which it has been in armed clashes since the 1980s, the U.S. sees PYD as an important force in combatting ISIL in Syria.

Meanwhile, U.S. State Department Deputy Spokesperson Mark Toner said Feb. 11 that the U.S. continued to categorize the PYD as a group fighting ISIL in northern Syria.

“I mean, what we’ve talked about them [PYD] and continue to categorize them as one of the number of groups in northern Syria, mostly, who are fighting Daesh [ISIL] and focused on fighting Daesh [ISIL] on the ground, and have been effective forces,” said Toner.

“And that’s where our support has come into play with airstrikes mostly, but other forms of support – intelligence and what-have-you,” he added.

BREAKING: Turkish artillery is striking Kurdish-held Minnigh Airbase in Aleppo, Syria, according to militants | France24 |

BEIRUT (AFP) – Turkish artillery on Saturday bombarded areas of Aleppo province in northern Syria controlled by Kurdish forces.

A British monitoring group said Turkish shelling struck areas of Aleppo, including Minnigh, recently taken by the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) militia from Islamist rebels.

Ankara considers the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) and its YPG militia to be branches of the PKK which has waged a decades-long insurgency against the Turkish state.

Turkey Shells Aleppo, Says “Massive Escalation” In Syria Imminent As Saudis Ready Airstrikes | Zero-Hedge |

Russia and Hezbollah are closing in on Aleppo, the country’s largest city and a key urban center where rebels are dug in for what amounts to a last stand. If the city is liberated by the government (and yes, “liberated” is more accurate than “falls” because occupied territory belongs to the Syrian government, not to Sunni extremists), Assad will have regained control of the country’s backbone in the west.

That would effectively mean the end of the rebellion and the Gulf monarchies, not to mention Turkey, are not happy about it. “The main battle is about cutting the road between Aleppo and Turkey, for Turkey is the main conduit of supplies for the terrorists,” Assad said in an interview with AFP on Friday.

That supply line has been severed and now, it’s do or die time for the rebels’ Sunni benefactors in Ankara, Riyadh, and Doha. Either intervene or watch as Hezbollah rolls up the opposition under cover of Russian airstrikes, restoring the Assad government and securing the Shiite crescent for the Iranians.

On Saturday the stakes were raised when Turkey said Saudi Arabia is set to send warplanes to Incirlik.

As a reminder, access to Incirlik was the carrot Erdogan used last summer to convince NATO to acquiesce to Ankara’s brutal crackdown on the PKK. “Let me wage war against my political rivals, and you can use our airbase,” is a fair approximation of Erdogan’s proposition.

Now, it appears the Saudis are set to use the base as a staging ground for strikes in Syria.

As RT reports, “Saudi Arabia is to deploy military jets and personnel to Turkey’s Incirlik Air Base in the south of the country.”