Officials in Turkey reported today (Tuesday) that at least two people were killed, and ten were injured, when rockets hit a school and houses in Karakamis in the Gaziantep district, near the border with Syria. The report comes a few days after the Turkish army launched a large-scale operation in northern Syria and Iraq against the Kurdish militias, and after the president, Recep Tayyip Erdogansaid that he is also considering a ground operation.
Meanwhile, the governor of Gaziantep province claimed that “the rockets that hit a school, houses and a truck were fired by Kurdish militants from the YPG”. Minister of the Interior, Suleiman Soylo, said that “during another incident near the city of Kilis, a soldier and seven policemen were injured.” He also stated that “Turkey will respond to any aggression against it in the strongest way. Those who drop bombs on 5-year-old children will pay the price.”
An attack by the Turkish army in Syria (Photo: REUTERS/Orhan Qereman)
The Turkish president stated that “the operation is not limited to air only. We have already warned, we will make those who harm our territory pay.” However, the YPG (People’s Protection Units), is the main military force fighting the Islamic State in northern Syria, and is supported by the US and other Western countries. Despite this, Turkey claims that it is a Syrian branch of the outlawed PKK organization in the country. At the same time, the Turkish Air Force launched an attack on the positions of the PKK and the YPG, in northern Syria and Iraq, and reported that it killed 15 militants from both organizations. In response, the YPG responded by firing rockets and mortars at Turkish army positions.
The Syrian Center for Human Rights reported that “the Turkish forces fired heavy artillery fire at six villages in the al-Hasqa region, in the northeast of the country,” and that “31 civilians were killed.” Among the targets of the attack by the Turkish army, there were also sites of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a military alliance made up of Kurdish fighters, which is also fighting against ISIS and the rebel organization Tahrir al-Sham.
The Turkish Ministry of Defense announced that “the air operation was successfully carried out as part of our strategy to eradicate terrorism at its Source, and eliminate terrorist attacks against our people and our security forces.” The Turkish President, Erdogan, stated that “we will not hold discussions with the President of the United States and the President of Russia regarding the operation. Both countries support Syrian forces in the region.
At the same time, the German government called on Turkey to “act proportionately and in accordance with international law”, and that the reports of Turkish attacks on the civilian population are “extremely worrying”. German Foreign Ministry spokesman, Christopher Burgeradded that “We call on Turkey and all the forces not to do anything that will exacerbate the already high tensions in the region.”
In addition, media outlets in Europe warned that the new operation could create problems for Ankara’s complex relations with its Western allies, especially the United States, due to the Americans’ support for the YPG militia that is fighting ISIS. Turkey has often accused Washington of supplying weapons to the Kurdish forces in the region .
Remember, the Turkish military operation in Syria and Iraq comes after Turkey accused the Kurdish militias of carrying out the attack in Istanbul. A senior Turkish official told Reuters that the Turkish authorities believe that the suspect, who is from Syria, belongs to a group of Kurdish militants, but they do not rule out a connection to the Islamic State terrorist organization. The official also stated that the initial findings showed that the terrorist has ties to the Kurdish Workers’ Party PKK.