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The Turkish air force carried out air strikes on Saturday evening March 20 against an area held by Kurdish militias in northern Syria, the first for 17 months, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (OSDH) . </p><div> <p>« <em>Turkish fighter jets target Syrian Democratic Forces military positions [FDS, dominées par les kurdes] in the village of Saida, near the town of Aïn Issa</em> », Clarified the OSDH.
« These are the first air raids since Operation Source of Peace “Launched in October 2019 by Ankara and allied Syrian groups against the SDF in northern Syria, OSDH director Rami Abdel Rahmane told AFP.
The operation, interrupted after two agreements negotiated by Ankara with Washington, then with Moscow, had enabled Ankara to seize a border strip 120 kilometers wide in Syrian territory and about thirty kilometers deep.
A strategic locality targeted
The city of Aïn Issa and its surroundings, however, remained in the hands of Kurdish forces. These raids come as the fighting rages on the outskirts of this strategic locality, according to the OSDH.
« Clashes have continued between the two camps for 24 hours. […] Turkish forces struggle to move forward as SDF manages to destroy Turkish tank Rami Abdel Rahmane told AFP.
Ankara wants to stop the territorial expansion of the YPG
The People’s Protection Units (YPG), an integral part of the SDF, are seen by Ankara as the Syrian extension of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), a group classified as “terrorist” by Turkey and its Western allies.
But this Kurdish militia was also at the forefront of the armed struggle against the Islamic State (IS) group in Syria, with the support of the international anti-jihadist coalition.
In order to curb the territorial expansion of the YPG in northern Syria, Ankara has since 2016 carried out three military offensives targeting both ISIS and Kurdish fighters.
These operations allowed him to control a territory of more than 2,000 square kilometers in northern Syria, including the region of Afrin, one of the three cantons of the self-proclaimed Kurdish “federal” region in 2016.
The conflict in Syria, triggered in 2011 by the repression of pro-democracy protests by the Damascus regime, has become more complex over the years, involving several regional and international actors. The war has left more than 388,000 dead and millions displaced.
►To read: Syria: it will take “several decades to clean” a country devastated by explosives
Source site www.rfi.fr