11 dead in Syria after Turkey launched air campaign in response to Istanbul bombing



CNN

According to an official with the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), 11 people were killed in Syria, including a journalist, after Turkish warplanes conducted an “air operation” in the country and neighboring Iraq late Saturday. No casualties were reported by the Iraqi side.

Turkey’s new cross-border offensive, dubbed “Operation Claw-Sword” by its Defense Ministry, targets the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), the PYD’s People’s Defense Units (YPG) and the Union of Communities in Kurdistan (KCK), the state-run is managed by Anadolu News Agency.

The campaign follows a deadly explosion in the heart of Istanbul a week ago, for which Turkish officials said Kurdish separatists were responsible, a claim disputed by Kurdish groups. At least six people were killed and at least 81 others injured in this attack.

Turkish fighter jets carried out airstrikes around Kobani, the village of Dahir al-Arab and al-Beilonya, SDF media chief Ferhad Shami said via Twitter.

Shami said the attacks hit northern and eastern Syria, destroyed a hospital in Kobani and a power plant in Derik, and destroyed grain silos in Dahir al-Arab.

An eyewitness told CNN that warplanes carried out airstrikes near the YPG-controlled town of Tal Rifaat in northern Aleppo countryside.

Turkey’s defense minister on Sunday congratulated his country’s air force on the “successful” air operation, according to Anadolu.

“Terrorist shelters, bunkers, caves, tunnels and warehouses were successfully destroyed. We have followed them closely. The so-called headquarters of the terrorist organization was also hit and destroyed,” Hulusi Akar said in an address from the capital Ankara, Anadolu reported.

A look after the strikes in Derik on Sunday.

Both Turkey and the United States consider the PKK a terrorist organization. The two countries disagree on the status of the military wing of the YPG, which was a US ally in the fight against ISIS in Syria, but Turkey considers it a Syrian extension of the PKK.

A woman has been arrested on suspicion of carrying out the deadly blast in Istanbul last Sunday. According to Turkish authorities, she has been identified as a Syrian citizen trained by militant Kurds.

Officials from the SDF, the YPG and the People’s Defense Forces (HPG), the PKK’s armed wing, have all denied their involvement in the attack.

Meanwhile, the Bulgarian prosecutor’s office has filed charges against five people for supporting terrorist acts in connection with the explosion.

The five people have been charged with two crimes, Bulgaria’s chief prosecutor Anglel Kanev told reporters on Saturday. “One [is being in] an organized crime group dedicated to human trafficking and human trafficking. The other is, under Article 108a of the Criminal Code in general, aiding and abetting terrorist activities to a certain extent at a given point in time.”

All suspects are foreign nationals and one has dual Bulgarian citizenship, Kanev said.

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