Turkey launched airstrikes over northern regions of Syria and Iraq, the Turkish Defense Ministry said Sunday, targeting Kurdish groups that Ankara holds responsible for last week’s bomb attack in Istanbul.
Warplanes attacked bases of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, and the Syrian People’s Protection Units (YPG), the ministry said in a statement. It was accompanied by images of F-16 jets taking off and footage of a strike from an aerial drone.
The airstrikes occurred a week after a bomb rocked a bustling avenue in the heart of Istanbul, killing six people and wounding over 80 others.
Turkish authorities blamed the attack on the PKK and its Syrian affiliate the YPG. The Kurdish militant groups have, however, denied involvement.
Ankara and Washington both consider the PKK a terror group, but disagree on the status of the YPG. Under the banner of the Syrian Democratic Forces, the YPG has been allied with the US in the fight against the Islamic State group in Syria.
The airstrikes targeted Kobani, a strategic Kurdish-majority Syrian town near the Turkish border that Ankara had previously attempted to overtake in its plans to establish a “safe zone” along northern Syria. Syrian Democratic Forces spokesperson Farhad Shami added that two villages heavily populated with displaced people were under Turkish bombardment. He said the strikes had resulted in “deaths and injuries.”
This comes as police in Bulgaria have detained five people in connection with the bombing in Instanbul, the Bulgarian prosecution service said Saturday.
The detained individuals were charged with helping one of the people who carried out the attack, a spokesperson for Bulgaria's chief prosecutor said.
They are accused of providing “logistical assistance” to help the person flee.