Response to the terrorist attack in Istanbul? On Saturday evening, the Turkish army carried out aerial bombardments of several Kurdish-controlled areas in northern Syria. According to the SDF (Syrian Democratic Forces), Turkey attacked the provinces of Aleppo (north) and Hassak (northeast), in particular, the city of Kobane, near the Turkish border.
According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (OSDH), a London-based NGO with an extensive network of sources in Syria, the Turkish army has carried out more than twenty strikes in two provinces. The shelling killed at least six FDS members and six pro-regime soldiers, according to the OSDH.
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Kurdish forces do not report casualties in their ranks. But Farhad Shami confirmed that the Turkish bombings targeted facilities belonging to Syrian government forces in the provinces of Raqqa and Hasaka (northeast) and Aleppo (north), resulting in deaths and injuries.
SDF Commander-in-Chief Mazlum Abdi also criticized the “aggressive and barbaric” shelling. “Turkish bombing of our areas threatens the entire region. This bombardment serves no side. We are doing everything to avoid a major disaster. If war breaks out, everyone will suffer,” he tweeted.
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This Sunday morning, the Turkish Ministry of Defense announced the launch of the “Claw of the Sword” air operation in northern Iraq and Syria, accusing their regions of being “used as bases by terrorists.” “The planes took off from their bases, the air operation has begun,” the message says. This operation was carried out “in accordance with the rights of self-defence arising from Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations, with the aim of eliminating terrorist attacks from northern Iraq and Syria, securing the borders and eliminating terrorism at the source,” the Turkish Defense Ministry said in a statement.
“The hour of reckoning has come”
On the night from Saturday to this Sunday, the Turkish Ministry of Defense already confirmed on Twitter that “the hour of reckoning has struck”, showing a photo of the aircraft taking off for a night operation, without specifying the location. “The bastards will be held accountable for their treacherous attacks,” the ministry continued on its official account. “Terrorist pockets destroyed by targeted fire,” the Turkish ministry noted in another tweet, accompanied by a video showing the designated target from the sky before the explosion.
Turkish authorities accuse a young Syrian woman of planting a bomb that exploded November 13 on the main shopping street of Istiklal in central Istanbul, killing six people and injuring 81. Turkey immediately listed the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the YPG (People’s Protection Units), a Kurdish militia operating in Syria that Ankara accused of having ties to the PKK. Turkish Interior Minister Suleiman Soylu said “the attack was ordered from Kobane,” a city controlled by Kurdish forces.
The PKK and the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), backed by Washington, have denied Ankara’s accusations of responsibility and deny any connection to the Istanbul attack.
The US State Department said on Friday it was wary of “possible military action from Turkey,” advising its citizens not to travel to northern Syria and Iraq.
Syria, which has been at war since 2011, is fragmented due to the intervention of several factions and foreign powers in the conflict. Between 2016 and 2019, the Turkish army carried out three major operations in northern Syria against Kurdish militias and organizations. Turkey, whose soldiers are stationed in areas in northern Syria, has been threatening to launch a major offensive against the SDF, which it considers “terrorists” since May.