Ankara claims it is bombing “terrorists” and has “neutralized” more than 180 people in Syria in an operation it calls “Claw-Sword.” But mounting evidence on the ground in eastern Syria, where the airstrikes have targeted Kurdish and Christian minorities, reveals that civilians have been killed.
According to a video from the humanitarian service group Free Burma Rangers, which has a lot of experience in both Iraq and Syria, “Turkish airstrikes killed over 30 people, including 11 civilians in northern Syria on November 20.”
Dave Eubank, a leader of the group, described the airstrikes and documented the incident that led to the civilians being killed and several others wounded. He called it “absolutely brutal.”
Russia has called on Turkey to show “restraint,” although it appears that Moscow and the Syrian regime opened the airspace to enable the Turkish airstrikes.
This leads to other questions about the degree to which the US-led coalition against ISIS, which works with the same Kurdish groups who are victims of the airstrikes, is doing enough to prevent attacks on the area. Some people wonder whether Washington is stabbing the locals in the back by not preventing the attacks.
Turkey’s decision to launch the latest massive airstrikes appears scripted. Although Ankara claims this is “payback” for an alleged terrorist attack in Turkey, there is no evidence that Kurdish groups in Syria were responsible for the blast in Istanbul last week in which six people were killed.
Ankara arrested a woman they claimed was responsible, but it does not appear she is Kurdish or linked to the “terrorist” groups the regime claims to be bombing. It fits a pattern of Turkey creating alleged “terrorist” threats to excuse new military operations in Iraq and Syria.
These operations are usually followed by a chorus of nationalist rhetoric and Turkish state media claims of dozens or hundreds of “terrorists” being “neutralized.” Evidence on the ground usually shows that Ankara is merely carrying out airstrikes and bombardments at random across a swath of Iraq and Syria.
Turkey's bombings across Syria and Iraq
Last year, Turkey bombarded an area of northern Iraq and claimed it had targeted terrorists, but nine Iraqi tourists on a summer vacation were killed. Baghdad slammed Ankara for the attacks.
Northeast Syria is now once again worried that Ankara’s impunity to carry out airstrikes will cause more people to flee and harm civilian life in cities such as Kobane, Qamishli and Derik.
Turkey generally targets only Kurdish areas, but it also bombards Christian minorities in Syria, such as in Tal Tamr.
The people of northeast Syria have no protection because Russia and the Syrian regime work with Turkey, which is a member of NATO. This seems to mean that the countries involved in Syria open their airspace to airstrikes.