The Syrian Kurdish militia known as the People’s Protection Units, or YPG, said 20 of its fighters were killed and 18 wounded.
YPG spokesman Redur Khalil said the Turkish aircraft struck the group’s headquarters in Karachok, in Syria’s northeastern Hassakeh province, causing extensive damage to the headquarters as well as nearby civilian property.
The airstrikes also killed five members of the Iraqi Kurdish militia known as the Peshmerga, which is also battling ISIS terrorist group.
A Turkish military statement said the pre-dawn strikes hit targets on Sinjar Mountain in northern Iraq and a mountainous region in Syria. It said the operations were conducted to prevent infiltration of Kurdish rebels, weapons, ammunition and explosives from those areas into Turkey.
The Iraqi and Syrian governments condemned Turkish air strikes as a breach of their territorial sovereignty.
“The Iraqi government condemns and rejects the strikes carried out by Turkish aircraft on Iraqi territory,” spokesman Saad al-Hadithi said in a statement.
Iraq’s Foreign Ministry denounced the strikes as a “violation” of its sovereignty and called on the international community to put an end to such “interference” by Turkey.
“Any operation that is carried out by the Turkish government without any coordination with the Iraqi government is totally rejected,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Ahmad Jamal told The Associated Press.
He cautioned against a broader Turkish military operation, saying it would “complicate the issue and destabilize northern Iraq.”
A commander for Syrian Kurdish forces also called on international powers to defend their forces from further attacks.
“We are asking the international coalition to intervene to stop these Turkish violations,” the unnamed commander told the AFP news agency.
“It’s unthinkable that we are fighting on a front as important as Raqqa while Turkish planes bomb us in the back,” he said, referring to the ISIS stronghold in northern Syria.
In an emailed statement to The Associated Press, the international coalition also called on turkey to respect its neighbors’ sovereignty.
“We encourage all forces to … concentrate their efforts on ISIS and not toward objectives that may cause the Coalition to divert energy and resources away from the defeat of ISIS in Iraq and Syria,” it said.
Turkey justifies its aggression
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has vehemently defended Ankara’s recent deadly airstrikes in Iraq and Syria, vowing that Turkey would continue its military operations in both Arab countries “until the last terrorist is eliminated.”
The Turkish leader made the remarks in an interview with Reuters in the presidential palace in Ankara on Tuesday, adding that he would not allow Iraq’s northwestern Sinjar Mountains area to become a “new Qandil” for the militants of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), referring to a PKK bastion in Iraq, near the borders with Turkey and Iran.
“We are obliged to take measures. We must take steps. We shared this with the US and Russia and we are sharing it with Iraq as well,” Erdogan further said.
In early December 2015, Turkey deployed a contingent of its troops to the Bashiqa military camp north of Mosul, claiming that the move had been earlier coordinated with Iraqi officials. Baghdad swiftly denied the claim and ever since has called on Ankara to immediately withdraw its forces from the camp. Turkey, however, has so far refused to pull out its forces from the Iraqi soil.
In August 2016, Turkey also began a major military intervention in Syria, sending tanks and warplanes across the border, claiming that its military campaign was aimed at pushing Daesh from Turkey’s border with Syria and stopping the advance of Kurdish forces. Damascus denounces the operation as a breach of its sovereignty.
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