Rockets fired from Syrian territory hit a Turkish border post on Sunday (November 20), wounding at least three security forces, Turkey’s official Anadolu News Agency reported. The latter accused the YPG, People’s Protection Units, a movement of Kurdish fighters stationed in northern Syria, target of the operation called “Sword Claw”.
Overnight between Saturday and Sunday, Turkey launched this airborne operation into northern Iraq and neighboring Syria, killing about 30 people. It has targeted regions under the control of the Syrian Kurdish forces and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), blamed by Ankara for the Istanbul bombing that left six dead and 81 injured on November 13.
Between 2016 and 2019, Turkey had already conducted three major operations in northern Syria that targeted Kurdish militias and organizations, taking control of Afrin and forcing many civilians to flee.
In a statement, the Turkish Defense Ministry wrote: “Operation Sword Claw was successfully conducted as part of our strategy to eliminate terrorist attacks from Northern Iraq and Syria, secure borders and eliminate terrorism at its source”. A total of 89 targets, including shelters, tunnels, ammunition depots, command posts and training grounds were “destroyed”And “many terrorists have been neutralized”the ministry added.
The attacks mainly targeted the city of Kobani and its surroundings, near the Turkish border, including grain silos near Al-Malikiyah and a power plant in the south of this province, located in areas under the control of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF, Kurdish dominated armed coalition).
Turkish attacks completely destroyed the fourth power plant at Taql Bakl, near Al-Malikiyah in the southern province of Hassakeh, said an Agence France-Presse (AFP) photographer, who on Sunday morning saw dead bodies near a car. The shelling also targeted positions where Damascus regime forces are deployed, in Raqa, Hassaké and Aleppo, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (OSDH).
No casualties in Iraqi Kurdistan
“These attacks by the Turkish occupation state will not go unanswered. At the right time and place, we will respond with strength and efficiency.”, the FDS promised in a statement, before the announcement of the launch of rockets against the Turkish border. The official Syrian agency Sana, for its part, confirmed the death of several Syrian soldiers, without specifying the number. This was reported by the Syrian Ministry of Defense “Turkish Attacks” in which “the soldiers were killed”.
At war since 2011, Syria is fragmented due to the intervention of multiple foreign groups and powers in the conflict. Turkey, whose soldiers are present in areas of northern Syria, has been threatening since May to launch a major offensive against the SDF, which it believes “terrorists”. Ankara says it wants to create a “safe area” 30 kilometers wide at its southern border.
On the other hand, the Turkish strikes are not “no casualties” in northern Iraq, an official from Iraq’s Kurdistan Regional Government told AFP. According to a PKK spokesman “These operations are not new, they have been going on for seven months without interruption”. She stated it “Turkish army carried out 3,694 bombing raids on Iraqi Kurdistan soil” in this period.