Kurdish Syria
Troops from the Syrian Democratic Forces prepare to fire mortars on Isis positions John Moore/Getty Images

France's foreign ministry has urged Turkey to stop shelling Kurdish forces in northern Syria, saying it is "worried about the continued worsening of the situation". The bombing by the Turkish military began on 13 February, with Ankara saying that they are targeting factions of the People's Protection Units (YPG).

Turkey says that the YPG is no more than the armed wing of the Kurdistan Worker's Party (PKK) which they have been locked in a 30-year battle with. But the West has been working with the YPG in the battle against the Islamic State (Isis), providing training and arms.

Ankara has accused the YPG of gun-running between Syria and Turkey and threatened the Kurdish fighters not to expand their positions since the beginning of the Syrian Civil War in 2011. The YPG is in control of almost all of the Syrian-Turkish border after winning back ground from IS (Daesh).

But the insurgents have snubbed Turkey's demands, saying that IS would quickly return if they left the region. Syrian state news carried a statement by the government condemning the shelling as an "outrageous violation of international law".

The French have asked its Nato ally to stop adding more confusion to an already complex conflict. A statement read: "France is worried about the deteriorating situation in the region of Aleppo and the north of Syria. We call for the cessation of all bombardments, those of the regime and its allies on the entire territory and those of Turkey in the Kurdish zones."

One of Turkey's targets was the Menagh airbase, which was seized by the YPG from Syrian Islamist rebels. And Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said the shelling had taken place under "the rules of engagement against forces that represented a threat in Azaz and the surrounding area" in a message aired on Turkish TV.

"The PYD is trying to carry out an ethnic cleansing by raiding areas where there is no or little Kurdish population and works to remove non-Kurdish ethnic elements out of these areas," MP Yasin Aktay told Al Jazeera.

"If Turkish military do not intervene in the current situation, Turkey gets attacked by the elements located there. The US should see this fact. As an ally, Washington administration should see that it cannot be friends with the enemies of Turkey."

The French request comes as Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond demanded that Russia comply with international law and stop the "indiscriminate bombing of civilian areas" held by forces opposed to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.