Kurdish targets in northern Syria: Turkish airstrikes apparently continue

Status: 11/24/2022 7:01 p.m

Activists report further Turkish airstrikes on Kurdish positions in northern Syria. Several villages are said to have been shelled. The US is pushing for an immediate de-escalation.

Turkey has attacked Kurdish targets in northern Syria for the fifth straight day, activists say. Ankara forces fired on several villages and attacked an area with a drone, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported. A military base of the Syrian government forces near Kobane is said to have been bombed.

Turkey has been flying airstrikes against Kurdish militias in northern Syria and northern Iraq for days. Dozens of people were killed. According to Turkey, it only takes action against positions of the Syrian Kurdish militia YPG and calls its attacks “retaliation” for an attack on November 13 in Istanbul that killed six.

United States deeply concerned

The US supported the Kurdish militia YPG in northern Syria in the fight against the Islamic State (IS), whose cells are still active in the country. The government in Washington called for an immediate de-escalation. US State Department spokesman Ned Price said it was “deeply concerned” by the recent military actions that are destabilizing the region. They threatened the common goal of fighting IS.

They also endangered civilians and US soldiers stationed in the region. “We understand that Turkey has legitimate security concerns about terrorism,” Price said. At the same time, the US has repeatedly expressed serious concerns about the effects of the escalation in Syria.

Telephone call with Russian Defense Minister

Meanwhile, the defense ministers of Russia and Turkey spoke on the phone for the first time since the Turkish attacks on targets in Syria and Iraq. The Turkish side said, with a view to Syria, that they were determined to take further action against “terrorist threats”.

Russia supports President Bashar al-Assad in the war in Syria, Turkey supports rebel groups. The Russian Ministry of Defense under Minister Sergei Shoigu confirmed the call.

Erdogan threatens ground offensive

According to Turkey, it has attacked hundreds of targets since Sunday and “neutralized” a total of 254 terrorists. Meanwhile, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan continues to fuel concerns about a ground offensive. He had threatened that several times in the past few days. Erdogan said: “Until the terrorist threat to our country ends completely, we will continue our fight inside and outside our borders uninterruptedly.”

Hurcan Asli Aksoy from the Center for Turkish Studies (CATS) in Berlin assumes that Erdogan will also send the troops: “If he announces it, it will probably happen.” If Turkey invades Syria with ground troops, it will probably mainly hit Kobane, Aksoy said.

The region has so far been firmly in the hands of the YPG-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). Here Turkey would have to be prepared for the least resistance from Russia, the USA and Iran. According to Aksoy, Russia is busy in Ukraine. “And the USA is apparently waiting for Ankara to wave Sweden and Finland into NATO.” The NATO member has so far blocked this, among other things with reference to its alleged support for the YPG.

Reports of Turkish air strikes on the notorious Al-Hol refugee camp and a prison in Al-Kamischli have caused a stir in the past few days. Both house IS supporters.

According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, eight guards died in the attack on the camp. People would have tried to escape. The SDF warned that this would jeopardize the fight against IS. The background to the attacks was initially unclear. Turkey already occupies border areas in northern Syria after four previous military offensives. Ankara has maintained several military bases in Iraq since 2016.

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