For the first time in 17 months, according to activists, Turkey has again launched air strikes on Kurdish areas in northern Syria. A Turkish fighter plane bombed positions of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) military alliance in the village of Saida near Ain Issa on Saturday evening, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. It was therefore the first air strikes on the areas held by Kurdish militias since October 2019.
At that time, Ankara, together with allied Syrian militias, launched an offensive against the SDF in northern Syria, which led to the conquest of a 120-kilometer border strip. However, the area around Ain Issa and the city itself remained in the hands of the Kurdish fighters. According to the activists, fighting between Turkey and the SDF alliance is ongoing around the strategically important city.
The military alliance SDF is led by the Kurdish YPG units. Ankara perceives the Kurdish autonomy across the border as a threat, as it could boost the Kurds’ independence aspirations in Turkey. For the Turkish government, the YPG fighters are “terrorists” against whom it has launched three military offensives since 2016.
Since the beginning of the war in Syria in 2011, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights has counted more than 388,000 deaths. According to the UN refugee agency, 5.6 million Syrians fled abroad. The Syrian Observatory is based in London and gets its information from activists in Syria. The information can hardly be verified by an independent party.