Turkey has launched airstrikes against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), the Kurdistan separatist militant group behind the Istanbul bombings. Military tensions are increasing as many civilians are killed and Syrian government forces are also killed.
The Turkish defense ministry said in a statement on the 20th (local time) that airstrikes from Tal Lipat in northwestern Syria to the Khandil Mountains in northeastern Iraq had hit 89 targets and killed a number of terrorists the day before. DHA news agency reported that F-16 fighter jets took off from Marathya and Diyarbakir air bases in southern Turkey, and drones also scrambled from Batman.
The Turkiye army focused its attacks in particular on the area around Kobani, a city in northwestern Syria, where the majority of Kurds live. The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a Syrian rebel group led by the Kurdish “People’s Guard” (YPG) militia, said on Twitter that two villages on the outskirts of Kobani, which is home to a large number of displaced people, are bombed by Turkey. forces. The SDF said the airstrikes killed 11 civilians and destroyed a hospital, power station and grain silo.
A gas station attendant in the village of Derik in northeastern Syria, which borders Turkey and Iraq, told the Associated Press that “Turkish forces carried out five airstrikes” and that “innocent civilians who committed no crime were killed and u injured.” The YPJ, a women’s military unit affiliated with the YPG, also condemned Turkiyeh, saying the airstrike was carried out indiscriminately.
The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) said at least 31 people had been killed in the strikes in northern Syria. The targets of the Turkish attack in Iraq have not been identified, and it is estimated that at least 32 people have been killed in Iraq.
“Our goal is to ensure the safety of our 85 million citizens and borders, and to retaliate against any attack on Turkiye,” Defense Minister Hulusi Akar Turkiye explained in a statement. Ibrahim Kalin, a spokesman for Turkiye’s presidential office, posted a picture of the Turkish flag on Twitter with the phrase “time to take revenge against Istiklal”. Istiklal is the name of a street in Istanbul where an explosion occurred on the 13th. At least six people were killed and 80 injured in the explosion. The Turkiye government accused the PKK of being responsible. However, the PKK denied any involvement and said it did not target civilians.
The PKK, a group formed with the aim of establishing an independent state in the south-east of Turkey, seriously clashed with the Turkiye army from 1984. Tens of thousands of people lost their lives in this conflict. Turkey, the United States and the European Union (EU) have designated the PKK as a terrorist organization. On the other hand, there is a conflict of opinion between Turkey and Western countries regarding the status of the YPG, which is classified as a supporter of the PKK in Syria. The YPG was incorporated into the SDF, the counter-terrorism partner of the United States, and achieved the greatest results in the fight against the Islamic State (IS).
Turkey has invaded northern Syria three times since 2016 and has already taken control of some territory. The Turkish army launched a new ground and air campaign against the PKK in northern Iraq in April. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan gave the order for airstrikes as he returned from the G20 summit in Indonesia on the 16th.
Military tensions have risen on the border between Turkey and Syria. The SDF said in a statement that “there will be a response at some point” and that “we will respond in a strong and effective manner at the right place and time.” Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency said one national police officer and two police officers were injured in a rocket attack on a checkpoint on the southern border.
Syria’s state-run Sana News Agency quoted a government military official as saying that three Syrian soldiers had been killed in the attack by the Turkish army. SOHR said Turkish forces carried out 25 airstrikes in Hasaqah in northeastern Syria and Aleppo in central Syria. At least 12 soldiers, including Syrian government forces and the SDF, were killed.