Turkey targets Kurdish groups in Syria, Iraq


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A Turkish combat helicopter

Air strikes come days after Ankara blamed outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party for deadly bombing in Istanbul

Turkey announced early Sunday it had carried out air strikes against Kurdish militant bases across northern Syria and Iraq which it said were being used to launch "terrorist" attacks on Turkey.

The Turkish defense ministry said the raids targeted bases of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) and the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG), which Ankara considers an extension of the PKK.

"In line with our self-defense rights arising from Article 51 of the United Nations Charter, the Pence Kilic air operation was carried out in the regions in the north of Iraq and Syria which are used as bases for attacks on our country by terrorists," the ministry said in a statement.

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The attacks come just days after Ankara blamed the PKK for a deadly bombing in central Istanbul last week which killed six people and wounded 81.

The PKK, which has waged an insurgency in Turkey for decades, and the YPG have both denied any involvement in the attack.

"The hour of reckoning has come," the Turkish defense ministry tweeted earlier Sunday, along with a photo of a plane taking off for a night operation.

"The treacherous attacks of the scoundrels are being held to account," it said.

"Terrorist hotbeds razed by precision strikes," the ministry said in another post, which was accompanied by a video showing a target being selected from the air followed by an explosion.

Turkey carried out more than 20 strikes on sites in the northern Syrian province of Aleppo and Hassakeh in the northeast, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based monitoring group that has an extensive network of contacts across Syria.

The raids killed at least six members of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and six pro-regime soldiers, the monitor said.

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