A number of targets in Dêrik (Al-Malikiyah) and Shahba, northeast Syria, in Sinjar (Shengal), northern Iraq, and in the Makhmur refugee camp in Iraqi Kurdistan were bombed in coordinated strikes by Turkish armed forces on Tuesday night. All the attacks reportedly took place around 10pm local time.
The Turkish defence ministry said: “The Defence Minister Hulusi Akar directed the Winter Eagle Operation that was carried out last night, which destroyed the shelters of terrorists.”
Iraq’s military condemned what it called a Turkish infiltration into Iraqi air space as a violation of its sovereignty, Reuters reported.
While the airstrike on the Makhmur refugee camp left many injured, the number and conditions of casualties are as yet unknown. The camp houses thousands of Kurdish refugees from Turkey and was built by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
A number of towns and villages were targeted in the Yazidi homeland Sinjar. The Yazidi villages of Şîlo, Barî, Kurs and Çilmîra were bombed in at least 20 strike sorties, and the district of Khana Sor (Xanesor) was hit in two.
Shehba in northeast Syria was targeted at about the same time by Turkish forces and affiliated armed groups. The villages of Şêx Îsa, Semuqa and Hirbil, and Shahba Dam were bombed in artillery attacks.
A power station in the city of Derik was targeted in another Turkish attack.
Nadine Maenza, the chair of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), tweeted after the attacks:
“With all eyes on #Ukraine, NATO member #Turkey intensely bombs 3 locations in Iraq & Syria: #Sinjar, #Makmour Refugee Camp & #Derik. Counter to the US mission to defeat #ISIS, Turkey’s actions instead target religious & ethnic minorities & empowers #ISIS.”
Salih Müslim, a top official of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) in northeast Syria, drew attention to the timing of the attacks, emphasising that they took place immediately after the defeat of the ISIS attack in Haseke by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).
“These simultaneous Turkish attacks in Afrin, Derik, Shengal and Makhmur were conducted because it had given up hope in the ISIS offensive. It’s not the first time. They have carried out attacks in similar situations when ISIS has been defeated before (…) The Turkish state steps in and intensifies its attacks whenever ISIS loses,” Müslim said.
Co-chair of the Kurdistan Greens Party, Luqman Ehmê, stated that the attacks were an attempt of the Turkish state to ‘avenge the defeat of ISIS’ in Haseke.