Waves of Turkish airstrikes in Iraq and Syria leave many casualties
A series of attacks by Turkish war planes in Northern Syria left several people dead and injured late Saturday in areas under the control of the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (AANES), the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) reported.
Seven fighters of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) were killed by airstrikes in the town of Derik (Al-Malikiyah) in Al-Hasakah province, and a further two were killed in a village in the western countryside of Al-Darbasiyah, SOHR said.
According to the report, attacks also targeted the posts of the Syrian military in the region, killing at least six Syrian troops in a village near Abu Rasin northwest of Al-Hasakah, and in a village near Tel Abyad north of Ar-Raqqah.
The airstrikes left at least 30 SDF fighters and Syrian troops injured, and there are unconfirmed reports of further fatalities, SOHR said.
Hawar News Agency (ANHA) also reported on Turkish airstrikes in AANES territories, and said its reporter Isam Abdullah was fatally wounded by Turkish shelling following an airstrike, when he was reporting from Derik, a town populated by Kurds, Assyrians, Arabs and Armenians.
Turkish airstrikes also targeted the Kurdish-majority city of Kobani, near the Syrian-Turkish border, Shahba, Zirgan and Gire Spi (Tell Abyad), ANHA said, adding that the number of casualties are yet unknown.
There were reports of Turkish airstrikes also in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq.
The Turkish Defense Ministry said in a statement on Sunday that the recent airstrikes in Syria and Iraq were "conducted to eliminate terrorist threats." The statement referred to the airstrikes as "Operation Claw and Sword."
In another statement, it said:
"Time to pay! The scoundrels now pay for their treacherous attacks."
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu posted an image of the national flag and said poetically on Twitter:
"Suddenly one night, when they are not expecting... Time to pay!"
The latest Turkish airstrikes followed a deadly and unclaimed bombing in Istanbul that according to Turkish officials was carried out by the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), and which actually reminded many people of the bombings that took place before a crucial snap election in 2015. The 2015 bombings, claimed by the Islamic State (ISIS), had turned the tide in favor of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP). The presidential and parliamentary elections in Turkey are to be held within seven months.
The PKK denied any involvement with the Istanbul attack.