Why Turkey carried out airstrikes in Syria and Iraq killing dozens

Vivek Mishra
Vivek MishraNov 21, 2022 | 12:19

Why Turkey carried out airstrikes in Syria and Iraq killing dozens

A view shows the aftermath of airstrikes in Derik, Syria, on November 20. Photo credit: (North Press Agency via Reuters)

A week after a bombing in Istanbul killed 6 and wounded 81, Turkey on Sunday (November 20) launched airstrikes over northern regions of Syria and Iraq killing dozens.

Turkish Defense Ministry said the strikes targeted Kurdish groups that Ankara holds responsible for a bomb attack in Istanbul.

What happened: Warplanes attacked bases of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), and the Syrian People's Protection Units (YPG), the ministry said in a statement.


The raids in northern and northeastern Syria killed at least 31 people, AFP reported quoting Britain-based war monitoring group the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Operation Claw-Sword: The offensive codenamed Operation Claw-Sword targeted PKK bases in northern Iraq's mountainous regions of Kandil, Asos, and Hakurk, and bases of the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG), in Ayn al-Arab, Tal Rifaat, Jazira and Derik regions in Syria, AFP reported quoting the ministry.

"Air Operation Claw-Sword was successfully carried out, within the scope of our strategy to eradicate terrorism at its source and eliminate terror attacks against our people and security forces from northern Iraq and Syria," said a defense ministry statement.

Why Turkey attacked PKK and YPG: The Istanbul bombing was the deadliest in the country in five years. No group claimed responsibility but Ankara accused PKK and YPG of the attack. Turkey cited the right to self-defense under Article 51 of the United Nations Charter for launching the airstrikes.

  • Turkey and the US both consider the PKK a terror group. The PKK has fought an armed insurgency in Turkey since 1984. The conflict has killed tens of thousands of people since then, reported AP.
  • YPG, on the other hand, under the banner of the Syrian Democratic Forces, has been allied with the US in the fight against the Islamic State group in Syria, reported AP.

'Strikes random and targeted people': The Women's Protection Units, which is linked to the YPG, said the airstrikes targeted areas along the Turkey-Syria border including Kobani, Derbasiyeh, and Ein Issa.

  • The airstrikes were random and targeted the people, the YPJ media office said in a written response to the Associated Press.
  • Syrian Democratic Forces spokesperson Farhad Shami in a tweet said that two villages heavily populated with displaced people were under Turkish bombardment which resulted in 11 civilian deaths, and destroyed a hospital, a grain silos and a power station.

Fear among Syrian Kurds: After the deadly strikes in Syria, the Kurds in northern part of the country expressed fear and anger. They accused the United States of abandoning them after they spearheaded the fight against the Islamic State.

"Death to America," one protester yelled. America is a partner of Turkish President Erdogan, whose hands are stained with the blood of our martyrs," a protester said to AFP.

Last updated: November 21, 2022 | 12:19
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