Ankara launched airstrikes targeting suspected ‘terrorists’ in Syria and Iraq
The Turkish military operation against the alleged Kurds “The Terrorists” in northern Iraq and Syria could be reinforced with a ground component, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Sunday. The warning follows attacks on border checkpoints, with three Turkish civilians killed last Monday, according to the Turkish Interior Ministry.
“It is not limited to a simple aerial operation”, Erdogan told reporters on his flight home from Qatar. “If someone disturbs our country and our lands, we will make them pay the price.”
The Turkish leader was referring to nighttime airstrikes launched by Ankara against what the military called YPG/PKK hideouts. The YPG is a Syrian Kurdish militia, which Ankara considers part of the PKK, or Kurdistan Workers’ Party. The Türkiye-based PKK has waged a decades-long guerrilla war against the central government.
Erdogan said he did not warn either the United States or Russia about Turkish military plans, saying Washington and Moscow knew that “we can come suddenly one night”.
Türkiye attacks “terrorist” targets in Syria and Iraq
The president’s phrase referred to the Turkish military operation launched in 1974 in response to a military coup in Greece, which saw Cyprus split into parts controlled by Greeks and Turks respectively.
The hostilities seem to be wreaking havoc in Turkey. On Monday, several mortar shells landed in the border district of Karkamis in the southeastern province of Gaziantep, officials said. The projectiles reportedly hit a school, two houses and a truck near a border checkpoint, killing three civilians and injuring several others. Türkiye blamed the bombings on Kurdish militants.
In another incident on Sunday, a Turkish border checkpoint in the village of Oncupınar in the southeastern province of Kilis was reportedly targeted by rocket artillery fire. Turkish authorities said a police commissioner, six policemen and a soldier were injured in the attack, which they attributed to a Kurdish group.
Ankara presented Sunday’s airstrikes as retaliation for a bombing in Istanbul that killed six people and injured 81 earlier this month. Police arrested dozens of suspects, including a woman who allegedly left a bag containing the explosive device on Istiklal Avenue. Türkiye claimed she was acting on orders from the YPG in Syria.
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