Turkish airstrikes target Kurdish militants in Syria and Iraq after bombing

  • The Istanbul attack on November 13 left six dead
  • Ankara has blame Kurdish militants for the explosion
  • PKK and Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces deny involvement
  • SDF says 11 civilians killed in strikes

ISTANBUL, Nov 20 (Reuters) – Turkish warplanes carried out airstrikes on Kurdish militant bases in northern Syria and northern Iraq on Sunday, destroying 89 targets, the Turkish Defense Ministry said. , in retaliation for the bomb attack in Istanbul that killed six people. A week ago.

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

Ankara has accused the Kurdish militants for the explosion on Istanbul’s Istiklal Avenue on November 13 that killed six people and injured more than 80. No group claimed responsibility for the busy pedestrian avenue, and the PKK and the Forces Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) led by the Kurds have denied any involvement.

The strikes were carried out in Qandil, Asos and Hakurk in Iraq and in Kobani, Tal Rifat, Cizire and Derik in Syria, the ministry said.

The 89 targets destroyed included shelters, tunnels and ammunition depots, he said, adding that “so-called directors of the terrorist organization were among those neutralized”.

An SDF spokesman said the Turkish strikes destroyed infrastructure including grain silos, a power station and a hospital. Eleven civilians, including a journalist, died, Farhad Shami, head of the SDF’s media center, said on Twitter.

The SDF said in a statement it would retaliate to the strikes. “These attacks by the occupied Turkish forces will not go unanswered,” he said.

Separately, a Syrian military source told state media SANA that a number of servicemen were killed in the “Turkish aggression against Syrian land” on Sunday morning, in the countryside near northern Aleppo and from Hasaka.

Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said in a statement that all necessary measures had been taken to avoid causing harm to innocent people and the environment, adding that “one and only terrorists and structures belonging to to terrorists were targeted”.

“The claw of our Turkish armed forces was once again on top of the terrorists,” he added, calling the operation “Claw Sword”.

A A Turkish official said Ankara plans on Tuesday to pursue targets in northern Syria after completing a cross-border operation against PKK militants in Iraq.

“It’s time to bring Istiklal to account,” Turkey’s presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin wrote on Twitter on Sunday.

Turkey has so far carried out three incursions into northern Syria against the YPG militia. President Tayyip Erdogan has previously said that Turkey may carry out another operation against the YPG. Ankara has also stepped up drone strikes in Syria in recent months, killing a number of key SDF officials.

Ankara regularly carries out airstrikes in northern Iraq and has sent commandos to support its offensives as part of a long campaign against the PKK in Iraq.

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

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

Reporting by Ali Kucukgocmen in Istanbul, Suleiman Al-Khalidi in Amman, Nafisa Eltahir, Yasmin Hussein in Cairo, Kinda Makieh in Damascus; Written by Mahmoud Mourad; Editing by Chris Reese and Raissa Kasolowsky

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