April 2017 Turkish airstrikes in Syria and Iraq

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April 2017 Turkish airstrikes in Syria and Iraq
Part of the Turkish involvement in the Syrian Civil War, the Iraqi Civil War (2014–2017), the Rojava conflict, and the Kurdish–Turkish conflict (2015–present)
TypeAirstrike
Location
Commanded by General Staff of the Republic of Turkey[1]
Target
Date25 April 2017
02:00 EEST (UTC+03:00)
Executed byTurkey Turkish Air Force
Casualties70 killed (per Turkey)[2] 20 YPG fighters injured[1][3]

In the morning of 25 April 2017, the Turkish Air Force conducted multiple airstrikes against media centers and headquarters of the People's Protection Units (YPG) and the Women's Protection Units (YPJ) in northeastern Syria, while simultaneously launching airstrikes against positions of the Sinjar Resistance Units (YBS) on Mount Sinjar, northwestern Iraq. The airstrikes killed 20 YPG and YPJ fighters in Syria in addition to 5 Peshmerga soldiers in Iraq.[2]

Attacks[edit]

The attacks were authorized by the General Staff of the Republic of Turkey, who stated that the bombings targeted the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) and were attempts to prevent the PKK from "sending terrorists, arms, ammunition and explosives" to Turkey.[1] At around 2 a.m. EEST, Turkish planes conducted several airstrikes on YPG and YPJ positions atop Mount Qarachok, near the town of al-Malikiyah. The targets of the airstrikes were a YPG media center, a radio station, a telecommunications facility, and military bases. The airstrikes killed 12 YPJ and 8 YPG fighters and injured 18 more.[2][5]

At around 2:30 a.m., Turkish airstrikes hit reported PKK positions atop Mount Sinjar. The airstrikes hit a Peshmerga communications tower and killed 5 Peshmerga soldiers and injured 9 more.[6] Per the mayor of Sinjar city, no casualties were reported among the PKK.[7]

Turkish response[edit]

Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the President of Turkey, stated that "We are obliged to take measures. We must take steps" after the airstrikes. Turkey stated to have contacted the United States, Russia, and Masoud Barzani, President of Iraqi Kurdistan, prior to the attacks. In response to the airstrike on a Peshmerga position which killed 5 of their soldiers, Erdoğan stated that it was "absolutely not an operation against [them]."[8]

Reactions[edit]

A US military official and YPG commanders tour the area hit by the airstrikes
  •  United States: Mark Toner, the spokesman of the State Department, said that the U.S. was "very concerned, deeply concerned" about the airstrikes, which had been conducted without approval of the U.S. and the US-led coalition. He also said that the U.S. had "expressed those concerns to the government of Turkey directly."[8] According to officials from the United States Central Command, the coordination center based in Qatar turned down the Turkish requests to conduct the airstrikes.[9] After the airstrikes, US military officials visited the area in northeastern Syria hit by the attacks and met with the YPG to "de-escalate tensions" as they were "monitoring the developments".[1]
  •  Iraq: The Iraqi Foreign Ministry condemned the attacks in Sinjar as a violation of Iraqi sovereignty. The ministry stated that "any operation that is carried out by the Turkish government without any coordination with the Iraqi government is totally rejected.[7]
  •  Syria: The Foreign and Expatriates Ministry of Syria stated: "Syria denounces in the strongest of terms the blatant aggression carried out by Erdogan's regime on Syrian territory on Tuesday April 25th, 2017, when Turkish warplanes shelled positions in northeast Syria, claiming the lives of scores of innocent Syrian civilians."[10]
    • Democratic Federation of Northern Syria (DFNS): The airstrikes were condemned by TEV-DEM, the governing coalition of the DFNS, including the PYD. Several opposition parties in the DFNS also denounced the attacks, such as the KDPS/PDKS, the PDPKS, and the PYDKS.[11] On 30 April, the Afrin branch of the KNC (the most prominent opposition group in the DFNS) released a statement condemning the airstrikes and other Turkish attacks in northern Syria. "We condemn and denounce the Turkish aggression and demand the government of Ankara to stop the [attacks] immediately, we also ask PYD (Democratic Union Party) authorities to change its approach and authoritarian behavior and move towards a national and responsible approach to serve the unity of the Kurds and the Kurdish project in the face of challenges and serious risks in the present time and in the future for our Kurdish people", the council stated.[12]

Aftermath[edit]

US Army Stryker armored vehicles drive through Qamishli and head to the border

On 26 April, the Turkish Army targeted YPG positions with artillery near the border town of al-Darbasiyah in northeastern Hasaka. Heavy clashes then erupted between the YPG and the Turkish Army on the border, resulting in multiple casualties. Meanwhile, clashes also broke out between the YPG and the Turkish Army on the western border near Afrin.[13] Border clashes continued for the next two days, with border outposts being targeted from both sides which resulted in dozens of casualties.[14]

On 28 April, Turkish forces removed a part of the Turkey–Syria barrier north of Amuda and targeted villages north of the city with artillery.[15] On the same day, US troops, including 8 commanders, visited Derbassiye and other areas where the fighting took place.[16] On 29 April, more US troops in armoured personnel carriers arrived on the Syrian side of the border.[17]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Mohammad Abdulssattar Ibrahim; Maria Nelson (25 April 2017). "Deadly Turkish airstrikes hit US-supported Kurdish militia in Syria's northeast". Syria:direct.
  2. ^ a b c Isabel Coles; John Davison (25 April 2017). "Turkish jets strike Kurdish fighters in Syria, Iraq's Sinjar". Reuters.
  3. ^ a b "The Turkish attack on the Kurdish Forces' position kills 28 fighters at least including commander and workers of the media center". SOHR. 26 April 2017.
  4. ^ "Death toll in Turkish raids on Syria Kurds hits 28". Zaman al-Wasl. 26 April 2017.
  5. ^ a b "12 members of the Kurdish women's force, YPJ, killed in Turkish airstrikes". Kom News. 26 April 2017. Archived from the original on 27 April 2017. Retrieved 27 April 2017.
  6. ^ Michael R. Gordon and Kamil Kakol (25 April 2017). "Turkish Strikes Target Kurdish Allies of U.S. in Iraq and Syria". The New York Times.
  7. ^ a b Suzan Fraser (25 April 2017). "Turkey strikes Kurds in Iraq, Syria, drawing condemnation". Associated Press.
  8. ^ a b "Turkey air strikes on Kurds in Syria and Iraq spark US concern". BBC News. 25 April 2017.
  9. ^ a b Amberin Zaman (25 April 2017). "Kurds call on US to set up no-fly zone after Turkish attacks". Al-Monitor.
  10. ^ Syria denounces aggression carried out by Erdogan’s regime on Syrian territory Sana.sy, 26 April 2017.
  11. ^ "بیانیۀ مشترک احزاب کرد سوریه علیه حملات ترکیه به عفرین و دعوت مردم به اتحاد و حمایت از YPG" [Joint statement by the Kurdish parties against the attacks of Turkey and the invitation of the people to unite and support YPG]. Kurdane (in Arabic). 7 May 2017. Retrieved 29 June 2018.
  12. ^ Wladimir van Wilgenburg (1 May 2017). "Syria's Kurdish National Council condemns 'Turkish aggression'". ARA News.
  13. ^ Wladimir van Wilgenburg (27 April 2017). "Heavy clashes hit Rojava as Syrian Kurds respond to Turkish attacks". ARA News.
  14. ^ Dilber Issa (28 April 2017). "Tensions escalate between Kurdish YPG forces and Turkish troops north Syria". ARA News.
  15. ^ "Turkish Army Bombards Villages North Of 'Amouda' With Heavy Artillery". Radio Welat. 28 April 2017.
  16. ^ Wladimir van Wilgenburg (29 April 2017). "US army visits Syrian border to prevent further Turkish attacks against Kurds". ARA News.
  17. ^ Zeynep Bilginsoy and Sarah El Deeb (29 April 2017). "Tensions rise between Turkey, US along Syrian border". The Washington Post. AP.