Kurdish forces in northern Syria announced Thursday the deaths of eight fighters following Turkish airstrikes that targeted their positions at Al-Hol camp, which houses families of jihadists. The Turkish strikes “left dead eight of our fighters responsible for protection of the camp," the US-supported Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) said in a statement.
Al-Hol, home to more than 50,000 people, is the largest camp for displaced people who fled after the SDF led the battle that dislodged Islamic State group fighters from the last scraps of their Syrian territory in 2019. The SDF, the Kurds’ de-facto army in northeastern Syria, warned Wednesday that relatives of jihadists might try to flee the camp.
Among Al-Hol’s detainees are more than 10,000 foreigners from dozens of countries. The overcrowded camp is also home to displaced Syrians, and Iraqi refugees. Ankara launched a campaign of air strikes across parts of Iraq and Syria on Sunday as part of Operation Claw-Sword, following a bombing in Istanbul on November 13 that killed six people and wounded 81.
Turkey blamed the bombing on the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which is designated a terrorist group by the European Union and the United States. Kurdish groups deny any involvement in the Istanbul attack. Since Sunday, Turkish air strikes in Syria have killed 35 Kurdish fighters, 23 Syrian soldiers and a Kurdish news agency journalist, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
The British-based war monitor said Turkish artillery on Thursday also targeted Kurdish positions in the northern provinces of Hassakeh and Aleppo, along with a Syrian government position east of Kobane, along the Syria-Turkey border. No casualties were recorded in these strikes, it said. Turkey has threatened a ground operation, and the United States along with Russia, a major Syrian regime ally, have called for de-escalation.
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