Strikes launched in retaliation for Istanbul bombing target ‘terrorist bases’, but civilian deaths reported by Kurdish officials
Turkey launched deadly airstrikes over northern regions of Syria and Iraq, the Turkish defence ministry said on Sunday, targeting Kurdish groups that Ankara holds responsible for last week’s bomb attack in Istanbul.
Warplanes attacked bases belonging to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ party (PKK), and the Syrian People’s Protection Units, or YPG, the ministry said in a statement, which was accompanied by images of F-16 jets taking off and footage of a strike from an aerial drone.
The ministry cited Turkey’s right to self-defence under article 51 of the UN charter in launching an operation it called Claw-Sword late on Saturday. It said it was targeting areas “used as a base by terrorists in their attacks on our country”.
Syrian Kurdish officials have alleged that civilian deaths were caused by the air attacks.
The airstrikes came after a bomb rocked a bustling avenue in the heart of Istanbul on 13 November, killing six people and wounding more than 80 others. Turkish authorities blamed the attack on the PKK and its Syrian affiliate the YPG. The Kurdish militant groups have, however, denied involvement.
Ankara and Washington both consider the PKK a terror group, but disagree on the status of the YPG. Under the banner of the Syrian Democratic Forces, the YPG has been allied with the US in the fight against Islamic State (IS) in Syria. The PKK has fought an armed insurgency in Turkey since 1984. The conflict has killed tens of thousands of people since then.
After the strikes, the defence ministry posted a photo of an F-16 fighter plane with the phrase: “Payback time! The scoundrels are being held to account for their treacherous attacks.” The DHA news agency reported that F-16s took off from airfields in Malatya and Diyarbakır in southern Turkey while drones were launched from Batman.
By: Miss Cherry May Timbol – Independent Reporter