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New Turkish bombardments in Syria, "soon the guns and tanks"


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New Turkish bombardments in Syria, "soon the guns and tanks"

Mr. Erdogan has been threatening an offensive in northern Syria since May, but the November 13 attack in Istanbul (six dead and 81 injured), attributed by Ankara to Kurdish fighters from the PKK (Kurdistan Workers' Party) and the YPG (People's Protection Units), risks speeding up operations.

"We have been flying over the terrorists for a few days with our air force and our drones. God willing, we will eliminate them soon with our soldiers, our guns and our tanks," the head of state said on Tuesday during a speech in the northeast of the country.

The Turkish Air Force on Sunday launched Operation "Sword Claw", a series of airstrikes against 89 PKK and YPG positions in northern Iraq and Syria, which killed nearly 40 people. in Syria according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (OSDH).

Tuesday evening, Turkish artillery bombardments continued on the emblematic city of Kobané, in northern Syria, a stronghold of the YPG retaken in 2015 from the jihadists of the Islamic State group with Western support, reported the OSDH.

During the day, new Turkish drone strikes targeted in particular a joint base of Kurdish forces and the international anti-jihadist coalition led by the United States, 25 km north of the city of Hassaké, killing two people according to Kurdish forces. and the OSDH.

Five civilians, including a child, also perished in Aazaz (north) in the province of Aleppo and three Syrian soldiers died and several others were injured in the bombardment of the Menagh air base, not far from Aazaz.

Other bombings targeted an oil field near the town of al-Qahtaniyah, near the Turkish border, according to an AFP correspondent.

- "De-escalation" -

"They wanted to establish a terrorist state around us, we couldn't allow it. Protecting our borders and our nation is our responsibility and our duty," said Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu.

“We will make those who disturb us on our territory pay,” President Erdogan warned on Monday.

These statements - published shortly after rocket attacks from Syria that killed two people including a child in the Turkish border town of Karkamis (southeast) - prompted Washington and Moscow to react.

Both countries are embroiled in the war in Syria, which has claimed nearly half a million lives since 2011.

"We call for de-escalation in Syria to protect civilians and support the common goal of defeating ISIS," said US State Department spokesman Ned Price.

The United States supported the YPG, the main Kurdish force in Syria, in the fight against the jihadists of the Islamic State (IS) group, allowing them to regain control of Kobani in 2015.

John Kirby, spokesman for the White House National Security Council, acknowledged that Turkey remains exposed to a "terrorist threat" and that it has "the right to defend itself and its citizens".

However, he added, these "cross-border operations (...) could lead to a reaction from some of our partners in the SDF (Syrian Democratic Forces, of which the YPG is a part, editor's note) which would limit their ability to continue the fight against Islamic State," he said.

"We want to be able to keep the pressure on ISIS. This network is very much diminished, but it is still a viable threat. Therefore we want our SDF partners to continue to keep the pressure on," Kirby explained. .

- "Risk of destabilization" -

Russia for its part "hoped" that Turkey would show "restraint" and refrain from "any excessive use of force" in Syria.

"We understand Turkey's concerns (...) But at the same time, we call on all parties to refrain from any initiative that could lead to serious destabilization," Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry said. Peskov.

On Monday, Berlin and Paris had also called on Ankara, respectively, to act in a "proportionate" way and to "show more restraint".

In response, Turkey demanded on Tuesday that its allies, led by the United States, "stop all support" for YPG fighters.

But the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a coalition dominated by the YPG, say they are focusing their efforts on "de-escalation".

Between 2016 and 2019, Turkey carried out three major operations in northern Syria against Kurdish militias and organizations.

Ankara repeats wanting to create a 30 km wide "security zone" along its southern border.

"The conditions are met for a particularly vigorous offensive against the PKK / YPG, with the approach of the presidential and legislative elections" of June 2023, estimated the independent analyst Anthony Skinner, who recalls that President Erdogan has already played the " security card" in the run-up to previous elections.

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