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Turkish Warplanes Hit Kurdish Positions In Northern Syria

  • RFE/RL

A Turkish F-16 fighter jet (file photo)

A Turkish F-16 fighter jet (file photo)

Turkish warplanes hit the positions of U.S.-backed Kurdish forces in northern Syria on August 27, days after Ankara launched a major operation to clear the region of Islamic State (IS) militants and Syrian Kurdish forces.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a London-based monitoring group, said Turkish air strikes and shelling hit the village of Al-Amarna, which had been captured days earlier by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a mainly Kurdish alliance supported by U.S. air strikes.

In a statement, the Jarablus Military Council, part of the SDF, said the attack on the village caused civilian casualties and called it "a dangerous escalation that threatens the fate of the region."

The village is about 8 kilometers south of Jarabulus, a border town captured from IS extremists on August 25 by Syrian rebels backed by Turkey.

Later on August 27, Turkey's official news agency reported one Turkish soldier has been killed and three wounded in Syria.

The Anadolu Agency said two Turkish tanks had entered Jarablus where they came under rocket attack by Kurdish militants.

On August 24, Turkish tanks and armored personnel carriers crossed the border into Syria as part of an ongoing operation aimed at driving IS militants out of the border region and stopping Kurdish militias from seizing territory in the area.

Turkey’s Hurriyet daily newspaper reported that Turkey has 50 tanks and 380 personnel on the ground in Syria.

Turkey has warned the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG), militias which are part of the SDF alliance, that it must withdraw east of the Euphrates River or Ankara would be forced to intervene.

The YPG has been one of the most effective battlefield forces against IS militants in Syria.

But Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim on August 26 denounced as a "bare-faced lie" suggestions in Western media that Ankara's military operation in Syria was singling out Kurds rather than militants.

Turkey views the YPG as an extension of the outlawed Kurdish Workers' Party (PKK), an armed insurgent group which it considers a terror organization.

Turkey also fears Kurdish successes will embolden its own sizable Kurdish minority.

Fighters linked to the PKK claimed an attack on a police headquarters in southeast Turkey that killed 11 police officers and wounded 78 others.

Deadly clashes between Turkish security forces and PKK fighters have increased since a 2 1/2 year ceasefire collapsed in 2015.

Based on reporting by dpa and Reuters
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