ANKARA / WASHINGTON
Strikes by Turkish warplanes killed up to 200 PKK/PYDterrorists in northern Syria, the Turkish military said Thursday.
In a statement, the Turkish General Staff said between 160 and 200 members of the terror group were killed in airstrikes carried out as part of Operation Euphrates Shield.
The statement gave no precise location for the attacks but the PKK/PYD has recently been attempting to take Al-Bab, a city around 37 kilometers (23 miles) northeast of Aleppo, in a bid to unite two areas it controls -- Afrin and Manbij.
According to a local source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, this brought the group into conflict with the Turkey-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA) on Tuesday and Wednesday.
The Turkish military did not give a timeframe for the air raids but said 18 targets were destroyed in attacks that saw jets drop 26 bombs. The targets included nine buildings being used as a headquarters, shelters and an arsenal as well as an armored car, two armed vehicles and two unarmed vehicles, the statement said.
In an earlier statement issued Thursday, the military said another 11 stationary targets and seven moving targets were destroyed in raids carried out between 9.11 p.m. and 11.59 p.m. local time (1811 and 2059GMT) Wednesday.
The PKK and its Syrian offshoot thePYD are both listed as terrorist groups by Turkey although the U.S. and EU only view the PKK as a terrorist organization.
Operation Euphrates Shield was launched in August to rid the north Syrian border area of terrorists. The campaign has seen both Daesh and the PKK/PYD targeted by the FSA and Turkish tanks, artillery and aircraft.
The PKK resumed its decades-old armed campaign in July last year. Since then, PKK terrorist attacks martyred more than 700 security personnel and also claimed the lives of many civilians, including women and children, while nearly 8,000 PKK terrorists were killed in army operations.
The U.S. Secretary of Defense told reporters the U.S. is still gathering information about the Turkish airstrike in northern Syria.
Speaking at a press conference with his South Korean counterpart, the Ash Carter also commended Turkey’s effort within the anti-Daesh coalition ahead of his visit to Ankara on Friday.
“Our partnership in general is very strong. We work through issues as they arise. We've managed to do that successfully, and I expect that that will continue. And that will be one of the purposes of my meeting with my counterpart over the next week,” Carter said, noting that he would see his Turkish counterpart, Fikri Isik, several times throughout the next week.
Regarding the row between Turkey and Iraq over Turkish trained tribal fighter’s inclusion into the Mosul operation, Carter said any action taken in Iraq should be done through the consent of the Iraqi government.
“At the same time Turkey is a member of counter-ISIL coalition, and so we'll be discussing with our Turkish counterparts and our Iraqi counterparts, and all the other parties to ongoing operations,” Carter added.
He acknowledged that the discussions around Mosul are “complicated”, adding that the U.S. is trying to keep all partners in the anti-Daesh coalition focused on the terror group.