Kurds under Iranian and Turkish attack in Iraq and Syria
Turkey launches "Claw Sword Air Operation" in Syria against the PKK and YPG, killing at least 31 people. Turkish President Erdogan threatens a ground attack. Turkish fighter jets enter Russian-controlled airspace in Syria. Kurdish forces fire rockets across the border into Turkey, killing three civilians. Iranian attacks in Iraqi Kurdistan claim at least one life.
Erbil (AsiaNews) – For days, Iran and Turkey have been attacking Kurdish targets in Iraq and Syria with missiles and drones, killing scores and causing serious damage to the infrastructure in areas already hit by heavy bombing and shelling and other military operations in the past.
Iran centred its operations on Iraqi Kurdistan, where it believes Kurdish resistance groups have bases with links to the Iranian opposition. The attacks intensified in the aftermath of the death of 22-year-old Kurdish Mahsa Amini and street protests that broke out across Iran and are now in their third month.
For its part, Turkey has beefed up its operations in Kurdish areas in Syria. Turkish authorities believe that that terrorist attack on 13 November in Istanbul, which killed six and wounded scores, was planned by the Kurdish Workers’ Party (PKK)[i] and the Kurdish People’s Defence Units (YPG)[ii] based in Syria.
This comes as recent reports indicate growing tensions, with violence and major loss of life among the civilian population.
Over the weekend, Turkey launched Claw Sword Air Operation against Kurdish forces in Syria and Iraq. The Turkish government announced the military action on Twitter with an image of a fighter jet taking off, saying, “Time to settle scores!”
For the first time in three years, Turkish planes were able to fly in Syria’s Russian-controlled airspace, hitting at least 89 targets, including Syrian military sites.
Kurdish authorities reported that, in addition to targeting bases and infrastructure, Turkish bombs killed at least 31 people in Kurdish areas on the border between Syria and Iraq. At least 11 of the dead were civilians, plus scores of wounded in the provinces of Aleppo, Raqqa, and Hasakeh.
Kurdish forces reacted immediately, with five rockets fired at Turkey, some agencies saying by the YPG, others by the PKK, landing on Karkamis, a Turkish village close to the border. Two houses, a school and a van are said to have been hit with at least three civilians killed and six wounded.
Now, as tensions grow, the violence risks escalating. This morning, Turkish President Erdogan said that the military operation will not be limited to air raids, but will be expanded with ground troops for what he promises to be a large-scale invasion.
People have been killed and wounded in Iraqi Kurdistan as well. “Erbil, Sulaymaniyah and several mountain villages were bombed,” said a local Church source speaking to AsiaNews.
“In addition to locals, here we have refugees from Mosul and the Nineveh plain who fled the Islamic State in 2014 and never returned. In our villages, we are fine and suffered no casualties, but people have been killed and wounded in the cities.”
The Turks are not the only ones attacking Iraqi Kurdistan. Iran too has launched a military operation with drones against what Iranian authorities believe to be safe havens for opposition groups and fighters.
This follows Mahsa Amini’s death, which sparked protests that don’t seem to be ending any time soon.
Overnight, Iran’s Revolutionary Guards (pasdaran) carried out an operation that killed at least one member of Iraqi Kurdistan’s military force, the Peshmerga.
The United States condemned the attack in a statement on Monday.
[i] Partiya Karkerên Kurdistan.
[ii] Yekîneyên Parastina Gel.