Turkish Warplanes Reportedly Hit Targets in Iraq Amid Afrin Op
AP Photo/ Selcan HacaogluMiddle East08:01 30.01.2018(updated 08:17 30.01.2018) Get short URL121
Baghdad has yet to comment on the information. The reported strikes take place days after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan stated that Ankara aims to clear its borders from terrorists up until Iraq.
According to Anadolu news agency, Turkish jets hit eight targets in northern Iraq, destroying shelters, hideouts and arsenals, belonging to militants, who were allegedly preparing to attack border posts.
The airstrikes, that have yet to be commented on by Baghdad, have reportedly been carried out in Iraqi Zap, Avasin, Basyan, and Hakurk regions.
It hasn’t been immediately clear to which group the militants, who were targeted, belonged, however, the strikes took place amid the Afrin operation launched on January 20 in Syria. The area is controlled by the Syrian Democratic Forces-affiliated and US-backed YPG militias, which Ankara considers to be linked with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has been waging an armed conflict in Turkey seeking autonomy and equal rights for the Kurds in the country.
READ MORE: Turkey Not to Limit Anti-Terrorist Op to Syria, Ready to Fight in Iraq — Ankara
Earlier, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan stated that Ankara “will be clearing our borders of terrorists up to the territory of Iraq.” The statement has been later echoed by the country’s foreign minister, who stated that Turkey is not going to limit its military operation to the Syrian Afrin region, and is ready to fight in Iraq, if necessary, in its effort to destroy terrorism.
The Turkish military campaign in Afrin and nearby regions was launched after the US had announced its plans to train a 30,000-strong border force in northern Syria mostly from YPG fighters, which are considered as terrorists by Ankara. Washington’s move was harshly criticized by Turkey, with President Erdogan threatening to “strangle” the forming “terrorist army.” Within a week after the announcement, Ankara launched an offensive in Syria’s Kurdish enclave of Afrin code-named Olive Branch and aimed at eliminating terrorists in the region.