With the world’s attention focused on the Gaza Strip, Turkey has resumed attacks against the Kurdish-led autonomous entity in northeast Syria, killing at least 10 civilians and wounding more than 25 people in a wave of airstrikes that were launched on Dec. 23. Turkish F-16s and armed drones are primarily targeting civilian infrastructure in a sustained campaign to destabilize and weaken the Kurdish-majority area where most of Syria’s oil and agricultural wealth is found.
Turkey said it was acting to avenge the deaths of 12 Turkish soldiers killed in clashes with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in Kurdish-controlled northern Iraq. Turkey claims the Kurdish-led civilian administration and its military arm, the Syrian Democratic Forces, are complicit because many of their senior figures used to be active in the PKK.
In an exclusive interview with Al-Monitor, the SDF’s commander-in-chief, Mazlum Kobane, denied that his forces were linked in any way with the PKK’s attacks on Turkey and said that the PKK did not have a military presence in the region under his control.
While the claim is hard to verify and imprisoned PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan's images can be seen across northeast Syria, there is no credible evidence of any PKK attacks mounted against Turkey from Syrian soil in recent years.