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Turkey has launched a new military operation against Kurdish forces in Syria and Iraq in response to the November 13 Istanbul bombing.
Ankara blamed the attack, which killed six people and injured more than 80 others in the İstiklal Avenue, on the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), the main component of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).
The new Turkish operation, codenamed Claw-Sword, began early on November 20 with a series of strikes that targeted northern Syria and northern Iraq.
In northern Iraq, several parts of the Kurdistan region were struck, including PKK strongholds in the Qandil Mountains. However, no casualties were reported.
The strikes on northern Syria were more intense. Turkish fighter jets, combat drones and artillery targeted the SDF’s areas of influence from the northern Aleppo countryside, to the northern countryside of Raqqa and the northern countryside of al-Hasakah. The strikes didn’t target SDF positions only, but also positions of the Syrian Arab Army (SAA), who is deployed in these areas to oversee a ceasefire brokered by Russia in 2019.
The Turkish military escalated its strikes on northern Syria late on November 20 following an indirect fire attack by Kurdish forces that targeted the Turkish side of the Bab al-Salamah border crossing in the northern Aleppo countryside. The Turkish Ministry of Interior said in a statement that eight security personnel, including six officers, were wounded in the attack.
The Turkish military escalated its strikes on northern Syria again on November 20 in response to a cross border indirect fire attack that hit the Karkamis district in the southern Turkish province of Gaziantep. The attack was also blamed on Kurdish forces in northern Syria. Turkish Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said three, including a child and a teacher, were killed in the attack and six other civilians were wounded.
On November 22, the Turkish military launched more strikes on northern Syria in response to another indirect fire attack by Kurdish forces. This time, the attack targeted the Turkish-occupied town of Azaz in the northern Aleppo countryside. Five civilians were reportedly killed and five others were wounded as a result of the attack.
Turkey’s repeated strikes on northern Syria resulted in some heavy human losses. According to the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, so far. The unofficial death count includes 22 personnel of the SDF and 21 service members of the SAA.
Senior Turkish officials, including President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, have already threatened to launch a new invasion into northern Syria as a part of Operation Claw-Sword. Despite the opposition of both Russia and the United States, who both showed displease with the Turkish operation, Ankara could go on with its military plans.