Airstrikes hit Kurdish militant targets in Syria and Iraq

Turkish warplanes launched airstrikes against Kurdish militant bases in northern Syria and northern Iraq today, destroying 89 targets, the Turkish Defense Ministry said, in retaliation for a bomb attack in Istanbul that killed eight people a week ago.

The strikes targeted bases of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the Syrian Kurdish militia People’s Protection Units (YPG), which Turkey says is an offshoot of the PKK, the ministry added in a statement.

Ankara blames Kurdish militants for an explosion on Istanbul’s Istiklal Avenue on November 13 that killed six people and injured at least 80. No group has claimed responsibility for the blast on the busy pedestrian boulevard, and the PKK and the Kurdish-led The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have denied any involvement.

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“It’s time to pay the bill for Istiklal,” presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin tweeted today.

Turkish airstrikes were carried out in Qandil, Asos and Hakurk in Iraq and in Kobani, Tal Rifat, Cizre and Derik in Syria, the defense ministry said.

The 89 targets destroyed included shelters, tunnels and ammunition depots, it said, adding that “many terrorists were neutralized” including the “so-called directors of the terrorist organization”.

A SDF spokesman said the Turkish strikes destroyed infrastructure including grain warehouses, a power station and a hospital. Eleven civilians, one SDF fighter and two guards were killed, Farhad Sami, head of the SDF media center, said on Twitter.

In a statement, the SDD said that they will return the blows. “These attacks by the Turkish occupation forces will not go unanswered,” they said.

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Eight members of the security services, including seven police officers, were injured as a result of a rocket attack fired by the YPG from Syria’s Tal Rifat on a police post near a border gate in Turkey’s Kilis province, the interior ministry said.

In a separate development, a Syrian military source told the state-run SANA news agency that a number of armed forces men were killed in the “Turkish attack on Syrian soil” this morning in the countryside near Aleppo and Hasakeh.

Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said in a statement issued this morning that all necessary measures have been taken to prevent harm to innocent people and the surrounding area and added that “only terrorists and terrorist-owned structures are targeted targeted”.

“The grip of our Turkish Armed Forces was once again on the terrorists,” he said, christening the operation “Forked Sword”.

The Ministry of Defense said it was the first time it had launched an airstrike in Kobani.

Referring to the airstrikes, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov told the TASS news agency that Moscow was in favor of “negotiated solutions”.

Moscow supported Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in the war that broke out in 2011, while Ankara supported rebels fighting to overthrow him.

Turkey has invaded northern Syria three times so far to attack the YPG militia. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said Turkey may launch another operation against the YPG. Ankara has also escalated drone strikes in Syria in recent months, killing a number of senior SDF officials.

Ankara regularly conducts airstrikes in northern Iraq and has sent commandos to support its attacks against the PKK.

The PKK has been waging an armed struggle against the Turkish state since 1984. It is considered a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States and the European Union.

Washington has allied with the YPG in the fight against Islamic State in Syria, causing a rift with NATO ally Turkey.

Anadolu reported that a Turkish court detained two more people today in connection with last Sunday’s bombing, following the 17 arrested last week. Bulgarian prosecutors have charged five people with aiding and abetting the attack.

Read also: At least 31 people were killed by the Turkish airstrikes

Source: RES-MPE

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