“The hour of reckoning has come! The bastards will be held accountable for their treacherous attacks”wrote, early Sunday, November 20, the Turkish Ministry of Defense on its official Twitter account, showing the photo of a plane taking off for a night operation without specifying the location, almost a week after an attack in the heart of Istanbul which left six dead and more than 80 injured.
For their part, the Kurdish forces have announced “Turkish army aerial bombardment” against the locality of Kobané (province of Aleppo) in northern Syria, near the border with Turkey, and against two other villages.
“Kobane, the city that defeated the Islamic State, is the target of bombardments by the air force of the Turkish occupation”announced Farhad Shami, a spokesman for the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF, an armed coalition dominated by the Kurds).
According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (OSDH) – a London-based NGO which has an extensive network of sources in Syria – the Turkish bombings targeted SDF sites in Aleppo and Hassaké province (north-east), the director of the NGO, Rami Abdel Rahman, told Agence France-Presse (AFP). The raids also targeted positions where Syrian regime forces are deployed in the two governorates of Raqqa (north) and Hassaké, killing six SDF members and six pro-regime soldiers.
“The nests of terror are swept away by precision strikes”added the Turkish Ministry of Defense in another message on Twitter, posted with a video showing the definition of a target followed by an explosion, still without specifying the place where the attack takes place.
Establish a safe zone
After the murderous attack on November 13 in the busy shopping street of Istiklal in Istanbul, the Turkish authorities immediately suspected the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the YPG (People’s Protection Units), a Kurdish militia active in Syria, accused by Turkey of being affiliated with the PKK. Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu had specifically accused the latter, who control most of northeastern Syria, of being responsible for the attack, believing “that the order for the attack was given from Kobané”.
According to the Turkish authorities, it was a young woman of Syrian nationality who planted the bomb and who declared, after her arrest, that she had acted “by order of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party”.
The FDS, supported by Washington, have denied any link with the attack. The US State Department said on Friday it feared “a possible military action by Turkey”advising its nationals not to travel to northern Syria and Iraq.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has regularly expressed since May his intention to conduct a military operation in northeastern Syria, which hosts bases of Kurdish fighters, in order to establish a security zone 30 km wide along from its southern border. The PKK and the YPG are considered terrorist movements by Ankara.
But if Turkey’s Western allies also view the PKK as “terrorist”the YPG were supported by the United States and France, particularly in the fight against the jihadists of the Islamic State group, which they drove out of Kobané in a battle that remained famous in 2015.