Syria’s Turkmen has come under the spotlight recently, after Turkey downed a Russian warplane near their territory. But who are they? And why is Turkey so protective of them?
Like the Kurds of Kobani, the Turkmen of the Turkmen mountains are gaining notoriety in the fight for Syria.
It was Turkmen rebel fighters – a battalion who claim to have shot at the Russian pilots as they parachuted out of their plummeting jet.
Syria’s Turkmen brigades number between 2,000 and 10,000 fighters. They are engaged in combat against ISIL fighters and Syrian government troops.
The Turkish Foreign Ministry summoned the Russian ambassador and called for an immediate halt to the Russian military operations near its border. Ankara then appealed to the U.N. Security Council to address the attacks on the Turkmen.
Turkey feels a close kinship to the Turkmen, who are Syrians of Turkic descent.
Following an increase of Russian air strikes over northern Syria, more than 1,700 Turkmen fled the fighting through the border into Turkey. Ankara blames Moscow for targeting the Turkmen community. Russia, which backs Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, said it is simply fighting the Syrian opposition terrorists.
An estimated 100,000 to 200,000 Turkmen lived in Syria before the start of the war. Roughly 25,000 are now in Turkey.
A school set up by the Syrian Turkmen Association in the border town of Yayladagi is educating Turkish Syrian refugees. They may speak Turkish, but their loyalties remain in Syria.
Syria’s Turkmen see this conflict as an opportunity to improve their standing in Syrian society. But not their manpower. As Russia deploys surface-to-air missiles to Syria and Turkey reinforces its border the Turkmen could be caught in the middle.
CCTV America’s Natalie Carney reports from Yayladag, on the Turkey-Syria border.
Who are the Turkmen of SyriaSyria's Turkmen has come under the spotlight recently, after Turkey downed a Russian warplane near their territory. But who are they? And why is Turkey so protective of them?
Russia introduces stricter measures for Turkish imports
Three days after Turkey shot down a Russian warplane, Russia is taking another step to punish Turkey. Russia’s food safety watchdog said a quarter of Turkish produce isn’t safe. A ban could soon follow.
Nearly 20 percent of Russia’s vegetable imports are from Turkey.
Tourism is another industry taking a hit. Russia’s Foreign Ministry already told Russians to refrain from traveling to Turkey. Russians already there were told they should return home.
But anger may overwhelm economic realities. Many ordinary Russians, along with their politicians, want retribution for their downed warplane. And President Vladimir Putin expressed skepticism about an offer by Turkey’s President to meet face-to-face.
Russia is sending a tough message to Turkey and to the world, that they are ready to cut ties and cooperation. But these sanctions will have an effect on Russia’s already troubled economy. And with Russia’s relations with Ukraine, Europe, and the U.S. strained, can it afford losing another partner?
CCTV’s Albina Kovalyova reports from Moscow.