TURKEY: At least 31 innocent lives were lost and injured after Turkey’s fatal air raids over the northern regions of Syria and Iraq on Sunday. According to the Turkish Defense Ministry, it has targeted specific Kurdish groups, which it alleges were responsible for a bomb attack in Istanbul.
The Defense Ministry released a statement after the airstrikes, saying that the fighter jets attacked the military bases of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, and the Syrian People’s Protection Units, or YPG.
Moreover, it said 89 targets were destroyed and a “large number” of designated terrorists were killed in the air attacks. The main target of the strike was the Tall Rifat in northwest Syria and the Qandil mountains in Iraq’s northeast.
Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said that the air raids were intended to destroy any threats to the national security of Turkish citizens and also added that they could be taken as a retaliatory attack on Istanbul. “Our aim is to ensure the security of our 85 million citizens and our borders and to retaliate for any treacherous attack on our country,” he said.
The Turkish air attacks come at a crucial time since just a week ago, a bomb attack in the heart of Istanbul claimed the lives of six people and injured more than 100.
The Turkish authorities were quick to blame the attack on the outlawed Kurdistan Worker’s Party, or PKK, as well as Syrian Kurdish groups associated with it. The Kurdish groups have denied any involvement in the attack.
It is important to emphasize that while the PKK is perceived by Turkey and the United States as a well-established terrorist group, the two countries do not share the same opinion about the Syrian Kurdish groups. The Kurdish group has been a strong US ally in the fight against IS in Syria.
According to the microblogging site and Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) spokesperson Farhad Shami, the attacks took place in a strategic town near the Turkish border that Ankara had previously attempted to overtake in its plans to set up a “safe zone” along northern Syria.
“The Turkish occupation aircraft are shelling the al-Beilonya village, which is heavily populated with Afrin IDPs who were forcibly displaced from Afrin in 2018. “This is in addition to the Dahir al-Arab village, which is populated by Ras al-Ain IDPs who were also forcibly displaced by the Turkish occupation in 2019,” the spokesperson said.
He also claimed that the Turkish airstrikes targeted military bases belonging to the Damascus government forces in Qazali (the eastern countryside of Tal Abyad), Tal Rif’at, and Zarkan, leading to deaths and injuries.