Syria has condemned the November 13 deadly bombing in Istanbul, warning Turkey against using the terrorist attack as an excuse for escalation.
The bombing, which targeted the İstiklal Avenue, killed six people and wounded more than 80 others. No group has claimed responsibility, but Turkish authorities announced that Kurdish separatists were behind the attack, implicating the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD).
Turkey’s interior minister, Süleyman Soylu, announced on November 14 the arrest of the female bomber and forty-six others. Turkey’s PKK denied any role in the attack, as did the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which accused the Turkish government of creating a pretext for a new ground operation in Syria.
On November 15, a Turkish official told the media that the Turkish military plans to pursue “Kurdish targets” in northern Syria after it completes a cross-border operation against the PKK in Iraq.
The threat led to worries in Syria, whose foreign minister condemned the bombing in an interview with the local Al Watan newspaper that was published on November 16. Faisal Mekdad said that Syria condemns terrorism whenever it takes place, but warned Turkey against using the attack in Istanbul as an excuse to escalate in Syria.
“If the Turkish administration wants to exploit such incidents against Syria, they know that they are the ones who sent the terrorists to Syria. They sent tens of thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands. They should not use such events as an excuse to carry out operations or steps that may further escalate the situation,” the minster was quoted as saying.
Syrian and Turkish intelligence officials have been holding talks for the last few months. However, the two counties are yet to make the decision to restore relations.
The Turkish military and its proxies spent most of the summer preparing for a new ground operation against the SDF in northern Syria. Ankara may be planning to use the deadly terrorist attack in Istanbul as a casus belli and launch its long-awaited operation.