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Turkish airstrikes kill at least 11 in northern Syria, Kurdish security forces say

By Jomana Karadsheh, Hamdi Alkhshali and Gul Tuysuz, CNN

(CNN) — Turkish airstrikes killed at least 11 people in multiple Kurdish-controlled locations in northeastern Syria, the Kurdish Internal Security Force said Thursday, the latest response from Ankara’s forces following a bomb attack in Turkey’s capital claimed by Kurdish militants.

In a post on its official website, the Kurdish Internal Security Force, known as Asayish, said the locations targeted by Turkey included the vicinity of a camp for displaced people and several villages.

“Eleven people were martyred, including five civilians and six members of the Internal Security Forces,” Asayish said.

Eight civilians and two members of the Kurdish security forces were wounded, it added.

In a statement Friday, Turkey’s Defense Ministry said it destroyed 30 targets and “neutralized” multiple Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) militants during the operation in northern Syria, citing its self-defense rights from Article 51 of the United Nations Charter to justify the strikes.

The strikes come after a bombing in Ankara over the weekend claimed by the PKK, which has waged a nearly four-decade long insurgency and is classified as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States and the European Union.

At least one civilian was killed in the attack Sunday when militants hijacked a car, and two police officers were injured in the bombing outside Turkey’s Interior Ministry building.

Later Sunday, the Turkish Defense Ministry said its warplanes had destroyed 20 PKK targets in northern Iraq in response to the attack.

According to Ankara, the PKK trains separatist fighters and launches attacks against Turkey from its bases in northern Iraq and Syria, where a PKK-affiliated Kurdish group controls large swaths of territory.

“In the investigation following the latest incident, it was determined by security forces and intelligence that the terrorists came from Syria and were trained there,” Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan told a news conference on Wednesday.

Fidan warned that all facilities belonging to the PKK and related People’s Protection Units (YPG) groups in Iraq and Syria would be “legitimate targets” of the Turkish Armed Forces.

“The response of our armed forces to the terror attack will be very clear and they will once again regret having carried out this attack,” Fidan said.

Kurds, who do not have an official homeland or country, are the biggest minority in Turkey, making up between 15% and 20% of the population, according to Minority Rights Group International.

Portions of Kurdistan – a non-governmental region and one of the largest stateless nations in the world – are recognized by Iran, where the province of Kordestan lies; and Iraq, site of the northern autonomous region known as Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) or Iraqi Kurdistan.

In recent years, Turkey has carried out a steady stream of operations against the PKK domestically as well as cross-border operations into Syria.

In November 2022, Ankara blamed the PKK for a bomb attack in Istanbul that killed six and injured dozens.

Terror attacks in Turkey were tragically common in the mid to late 2010s, when the insecurity from war-torn Syria crept north above the two countries’ shared border.

™ & © 2023 Cable News Network, Inc., a Warner Bros. Discovery Company. All rights reserved.

CNN’s Hande Atay Alam contributed reporting.

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