The death toll from the November 20 Turkish airstrikes on the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) areas of influence in northern Syria has reached 31 people, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR).
The airstrikes were a part of a limited Turkish operation that also targeted positions of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in northern Iraq. The operation, codenamed Claw-Sword, was carried out in response to the November 13 Istanbul bombing. Ankara blamed the PKK and the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), the main component of the SDF, for the attack.
The London-based SOHR said that the casualties included 18 personnel of the SDF and 12 soldiers of the Syrian Arab Army. The reporter of the Hawar News Agency, Essam Abdullah, was also among the casualties.
The Syrian Ministry of Defense confirmed that a number of service members were killed in the airstrikes, without providing any details.
The SDF claimed that only one of its fighters was killed, while the Afrin Liberation Forces, which is affiliated with the Kurdish-led group, acknowledged that five of its fighters lost their lives.
Losses were not limited to casualties. The SOHR released several photos showing some of the heavy material damage that was caused by the Turkish airstrikes on northern Syria.
The SDF has already vowed to respond to the deadly Turkish airstrikes in a “powerful and effective” manner at the “right time and place”. In a statement, the group went as far as accusing Ankara of plotting the bombing in Istanbul in order to use it as a pretext for a new operation in northern Syria.
The Turkish military and its proxies in northern Syria have been preparing to launch a new operation against the SDF for several months. However, Ankara don’t appear to be interested in such an escalation, at least for the time being.
The airstrikes were likely carried out to deter and intimidate the SDF instead of a costly ground operation that would be opposed by both Russia and the United States and could lead to a confrontation with the Syrian government.
- Russian Iskander Cruise Missile Hit Syria’s Greater Idlib (Videos)
- Turkish Airstrikes Hit Kurdish Forces In Iraq & Syria After Istanbul Bombing (Videos)