Turkey Launches Intensive Aerial and Ground Operations Against Kurdish Forces in Iraq and Syria

Turkish Army Pounds Kurdish Positions in Northern Syria Near Border with Turkey

TEHRAN (FNA)- The Turkish Army targeted and pounded the military positions of the Kurdish forces in Northern Aleppo near Syria’s border with Turkey as heavy clashes have intensified between the two sides there.

Sources close to militants in Northern Syria said that the Turkish army’s artillery units pounded several military positions of the Kurds in Zour Moghar and Shoyoukh Foqani in the surrounding areas of Ain al-Arab in Northern Aleppo and near the border with Turkey, destroying one of their military positions.

The sources, meantime, pointed to the Kurdish forces’ attacks on the Ankara-backed militants’ positions from Harbal, Sheikh Issa and Um Khosh regions in Ma’areh region, and reiterated that intense fighting has broken out between the two sides in the surrounding areas of Tal Rafat city.

The sources close to the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) also reported that the Kurdish forces targeted and pounded one of the positions of the Turkish army in Kimar village in Shirava region of Afrin in Western Aleppo, which resulted in the destruction of the military point and death of five Turkish soldiers.

The Kurdish-language Hawar news reported on Thursday that the ‘Executive Council for Autonomous Forces in Northern and Eastern Syria’ ordered all troops to go on alert after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan threatened to launch military operations against Kurds in coming days.

The Kurdish forces in a statement claimed Ankara attempts to support the ISIL, calling on the US-led coalition, the international community, specially the UN, and the NATO members to voice opposition to Ankara’s aggressive plans.

Meantime, commander of Ferqat al-Hamzeh, affiliated to the Turkey-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA) terrorist group, said that nearly 20,000 FSA militants are prepared to take part in the Turkish army’s military operations against Kurds in Eastern Euphrates, specially the town of Manbij in Aleppo and Tal Abyadh in Raqqa.

Baghdad Summons Turkish Envoy, Ankara Defies Iraqi Summons, Vows to Continue Air Raids

TEHRAN (FNA)- The Iraqi Foreign Ministry summoned the Turkish ambassador to Baghdad over Ankara’s latest airstrikes against Kurdish militants in Northern Iraq, but Turkey stated that it will continue its attacks on the militant group despite Baghdad’s protest at repeated violations of its airspace.

Baghdad announced on Friday that the Turkish military’s Thursday airstrikes were unacceptable “on all levels” and violated its sovereignty and the security of its citizens, Middle East News reported.

“The ministry denounces the actions of Turkish aircraft that violate Iraqi airspace and target several sites… in Northern Iraq, which caused loss of life and property,” it said in a statement.

On Saturday, Turkish Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hami Aksoy announced that the operations against the militants “will continue as long as terror organizations nest on Iraqi soil and as long as Turkey’s security needs require it to”.

“The activities of the [Kurdistan Workers’ Party] PKK terrorist organization in the territory of Iraq and Syria have become a national security issue for Turkey,” he added, stating that the government in Baghdad had a duty to prevent Iraqi land being used as a base for attacks on neighbors.

On Friday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said “last night we carried out operations in northern Iraq. This operation we carried out was in opposition to the hostile activities against our national security, along our border line in Sinjar and the outskirts of Makhmur”, vowing that “there will be more to come”.

“Why? Because, if there is a threat toward us from those areas — and yes there is — then they [the US] should eliminate those terrorists from that area. If they don’t, we will do it,” he added.

He also referred to a Thursday “attack from Tal Afar against Turkish soldiers in Afrin” and stressed that it showed “how accurate our decision was”.

“This attack proved that the terrorists who were piling up on our border, would eventually target us. It is known that the USA has 22 bases in the region and more than 20,000 trucks of weapons and tools which have been sent to those locations,” he noted.

“To whom were those weapons sent? To the PKK, to PYD, to YPG. Whenever we capture those things [weapons], we see clearly who sent those things, from where, and for what purposes,” Erdogan stated, referring to Kurdish militant groups by their acronyms.

Ankara regularly carries out airstrikes against PKK targets in Northern Iraq. The militants regularly clash with Turkish forces in the Kurdish-dominated Southeast of Turkey, which is attached to Northern Iraq. Turkey, along with the European Union and the United States, has declared the PKK a terrorist group and banned it. The militant group has been seeking an autonomous Kurdish region since 1984.

The Turkish president also said Ankara will send its forces to the Syrian town of Manbij if the United States does not remove the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) militia from the area.

“Manbij is a place where Arabs live, but they have surrendered the area to the terror organization. Now we are saying that you should cleanse, remove them, or else we will enter Manbij. I am speaking very clearly,” he warned.

Turkey considers the YPG a terrorist organization and an extension of the outlawed YPG. Ankara has been infuriated by US support for the YPG, which forms the backbone of the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), an anti-Damascus alliance of predominantly Kurdish militants.