TOPCU, Turkey — The dull thud of a mortar shell, the crackle of gunfire — these are the sounds of daily life in this remote village on the Turkish Syrian border. “Look,” said Abdulkadir Isikdogan, a local youth gesturing toward shattered window panes and pockmarked walls. “Sometimes, the bullets hit us as well; we are lucky to have escaped unscathed.”
Topcu, on the Turkish side of the border, is on the front line of a vicious turf war between the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) and Salafist groups led by Jabhat al-Nusra, the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) and Ahrar al-Sham. The battle, which has Topcu caught in its crosshairs, is over a village called Susik that keeps switching hands.