Sun. Nov 20th, 2022

Turkey launched airstrikes on several towns in northern Syria on Saturday, US-backed Kurdish forces said.

The airstrikes came a week after a bomb rocked a busy avenue in the heart of Istanbul, killing six people and injuring more than 80 others. Turkish authorities blamed the attack on the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), as well as Syrian Kurdish groups linked to it. Kurdish militant groups, however, have denied involvement.

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Both Ankara and Washington consider the PKK a terrorist group, but disagree on the status of the Syrian Kurdish groups, which have been US allies in the fight against the Islamic State group in Syria.

After the attack, the Turkish Ministry of Defense released a photo of the fighter jet with the sentence: “The treacherous attacks of scoundrels respond.”

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The airstrikes targeted Kobani, a strategic city near the Turkish border that Ankara had previously tried to take in its plans to establish a “safe zone” along northern Syria. SDF spokesman Farhad Shami added in a tweet that two villages densely populated by displaced people were under Turkish bombardment. He said the strikes resulted in “deaths and injuries”.

Syrian opposition media reported that Turkish airstrikes targeted positions of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces.

Click to play video: 'Sweden considers PKK a terrorist organization, vows to counter threats to Turkey'

Sweden considers the PKK a terrorist organization, and promises to oppose threats to Turkey

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an opposition war monitor, reported that the strikes also hit Syrian army positions and that at least 12 were killed, including SDF and Syrian army soldiers.

The Observatory said Turkish warplanes carried out about 25 airstrikes on locations in the rural areas of Aleppo, Raqqa and Hasakah.

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In neighboring Iraq, the US Consulate General in Erbil said it was following “credible open source reports” of potential Turkish military action in northern Syria and northern Iraq in the coming days.

Authorities in the Kurdish-led northeast of Syria said on Saturday that if Turkey attacked, fighters in the area would have “the right to resist and defend our areas in a significant way that will take the region into a long war.”

Turkey has launched three major cross-border operations in Syria since 2016 and already controls some territory in the north.

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