by Delil Souleiman with Rouba El Husseini in Beirut
AL-MALIKIYAH, Syria – Turkish warplanes killed greater than two dozen Kurdish fighters Tuesday in strikes in Syria and Iraq, the place the Kurds are key gamers in the battle in opposition to the Islamic State group.
Turkey stated it had carried out the strikes in opposition to “terrorist havens”, vowing to proceed appearing in opposition to teams it hyperlinks to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
In northeast Syria, strikes concentrating on the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) — who’re main the offensive in opposition to IS stronghold Raqa — had been reported to have killed 20 fighters.
In northern Iraq they killed six peshmerga fighters from the autonomous Kurdish authorities, normally allied with Ankara, in an obvious accident.
Baghdad condemned a “violation of international law and Iraqi sovereignty”.
“The Iraqi government condemns and rejects the strikes carried out by Turkish aircraft on Iraqi territory,” stated authorities spokesman Saad al-Hadithi.
The United States stated it was “deeply concerned”.
“We are very concerned, deeply concerned that Turkey conducted air strikes earlier today in northern Syria as well as northern Iraq without proper coordination either with the United States or the broader global coalition to defeat ISIS,” State Department spokesman Mark Toner stated, utilizing one other acronym for the jihadist group.
The strikes underlined the complexities of the battlefields in Iraq and Syria, the place twin US-backed offensives are searching for to dislodge IS from its final main city strongholds.
They might additionally exacerbate tensions between Ankara and its NATO ally Washington, which leads an anti-IS coalition finishing up air strikes in Syria and Iraq and sees the Kurds as instrumental in the struggle in opposition to IS.
Turkey stated its strikes aimed “to destroy terrorist havens targeting our country” and vowed to press the offensive “until the very last terrorist is neutralised”.
An military assertion stated the strikes “destroyed” shelter areas, ammunition warehouses and PKK communications amenities.
It stated 40 PKK fighters had been “neutralised” in Iraq and round 30 in Syria.
Prime Minister Binali Yildirim stated if the PKK threatens border securtity, Turkey “will take steps to remove this threat regardless of whether it comes from country A or country B”.
“Dozens of simultaneous air strikes” focused YPG positions close to the Syrian metropolis of Al-Malikiyah, together with a media centre, a monitoring group stated.
The strikes killed three media officers and 15 YPG fighters, one of many highest death tolls from Turkish air raids on Kurdish militia, stated Syrian Observatory for Human Rights head Rami Abdel Rahman.
YPG spokesman Redur Khalil stated 20 YPG fighters had been killed and 18 wounded, three critically. Two civilians had been additionally injured.
An AFP journalist noticed collapsed buildings and rescuers looking out by means of the rubble.
Representatives of the US-led coalition visited the location of the air strikes, the YPG’s political arm, the Democratic Union Party (PYD), stated on Twitter.
An officer carrying a patch bearing a US flag was seen on the web site with YPG fighters.
‘Problems and tensions’
Ankara has bombed the YPG in northern Syria for months, calling it a “terrorist” group due to its ties to the PKK, which has been waging a lethal insurgency in opposition to Turkey since 1984.
While the air raids on Syria appeared to hit their meant targets, the bombardment in Iraq as an alternative killed members of Kurdish safety forces usually allied with Ankara.
The peshmerga ministry in Iraq’s autonomous Kurdish authorities stated the raids killed 5 of its fighters and one intelligence officer.
Turkey appeared to have been concentrating on a minority Yazidi militia allied with the PKK and based mostly in the northwestern area of Sinjar.
The peshmerga denounced the strike as “unacceptable” however targeted blame on PKK-affiliated teams.
“These problems and tensions are all because of the PKK’s presence,” it stated, accusing the PKK and its associates of refusing to withdraw from the Sinjar space.
The peshmerga have been instrumental in the battle in opposition to IS in northern Iraq although have stepped again in current weeks as Iraqi forces advance in opposition to IS in Mosul.
Iraqi forces on Tuesday stated they’d retaken full management of Tenek, considered one of west Mosul’s largest neighbourhoods.
Eastern Mosul was recaptured in January and a push on the western half launched the next month has made regular progress regardless of fierce resistance.
IS is going through a number of offensives throughout Syria and Iraq — typically led by governments or forces that in any other case bitterly oppose one another.
Turkey launched an unprecedented cross-border operation into Syria in August to struggle IS and to maintain the YPG in examine.
The YPG makes up the majority of the Syrian Democratic Forces alliance of Kurdish and Arab fighters taking up IS in Syria.
After chipping away at IS territory throughout the north, the SDF is now locked combating the jihadists inside Tabqa, a city on the Euphrates River.
Clashes continued inside south and west Tabqa after heavy US-led air strikes in a single day, the Observatory stated.
The SDF entered the city on Monday as a part of its offensive on Raqa, Syrian coronary heart of the jihadists’ self-styled “caliphate” since 2014.