Turkey launched air strikes against Kurdish groups in Syria and Iraq

Turkey announced an air operation against the Kurdish groups in Syria and Iraq. Turkish aviation immediately attacked several Kurdish bases, Anadolu Agency reports.

Air attacks were carried out on the positions of Kurdish groups recognized as terrorists in Turkey, the Ministry of Defense reported. Ankara positions the operation as a response to the terrorist attacks that took place in Istanbul last week. 

Turkish air raids are a response to the terrorist attack in Istanbul 

According to the Turkish Defense Ministry, the operation is aimed at “preventing terrorist attacks on the Turkish people from northern Iraq and Syria.” 

The decision on a military operation was taken after a Turkish court ruled to arrest 17 suspects in organizing the terrorist attack in Istanbul. They are said to be linked to the Kurdish separatist groups. 

Turkey also states that the aims of the operation are:

  • to ensure the security of its borders;
  • to destroy terrorism at its source.

Turkey said it launched the operation under the country’s right to self-defense under Article 51 of the UN Charter.

The air strikes have already hit several Kurdish bases in:

  • Syria: Ayn al-Arab, Ayn Daghneh, Ayn Jesus, Derbesi, Maranes, Malikiya, Minnig airport, Tel Rifat;
  • Iraq: Asos, Sulaymaniyah, Sinjar, Qandil, Erbil.

Turkish NTV television said that Syrian airspace, which was controlled by Russia, was open to Turkish warplanes for the first time in years.

Ankara said: “The time of reckoning has come”. The operation was dubbed “Claw Sword”.

Turkey and Russia’s roles in Syria

Turkey has already sent its troops to Syria twice:

  • in Afrin in 2018,
  • and in Sere-Kaniyeh in 2019.

As a result of those operations, Turkey created so-called security zones, which became a haven for armed proxy groups of the Syrian opposition.

According to Turkish military sources, one of the determining factors for the new military operation was the withdrawal of part of the Russian armed forces from Syria – a forced step by the Kremlin due to heavy losses in the aggression against Ukraine. 

Russian troops have been deployed to Syria since 2015 to support the regime of Bashar al-Assad. On its side, Turkey backed the Syrian armed opposition which has been fighting against Assad troops since 2011.

Turkey’s main concern could be “the operation of Kurdish armed groups in Syria to transfer fresh forces and ammunition from Syria to Iraq”.

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