The Turkish government unleashed a barrage of drone strikes on various targets across North and East Syria early Thursday after Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan declared cross-border attacks on Kurdish-led territories legitimate.
Updates from the ground follow.
Watchdog reports 20 Turkish air-strikes, eight deaths in North and East Syria
The Rojava Information Center (RIC) has published a report detailing a sharp increase in Turkey’s aerial bombardment of North and East Syria. The report reveals that over 20 air-strikes have hit critical humanitarian facilities, causing eight additional fatalities and raising the 2023 death count to over 80. These attacks have led to widespread power and water outages in Kurdish areas, heightening concerns of an impending humanitarian crisis. Meanwhile, in a rare clash between NATO powers, US forces have reportedly downed a Turkish drone.
According to the RIC report, the strikes so far include:
Mushairfah area, Hasakah (Heseke) (diesel tank burnt, 3 injured);
Darbasiyah (Dirbêsiyê)/Hasakah/Tell Tamer (Til Temir) junction (strike on car);
West of Washokani IDP camp, Hasakah (causing NGO exodus from camp);
Mushairfah (Müşerfat) area, Hasakah;
Near Cil Axa (Çilaxa) dam;
Tal Habash, Amuda (Amûdê) (6 killed, 2 injured);
Al-Tawila, Tell Tamer;
Gerdahol oil facility, Tirbespiye (Tirbespî/Al-Qahtaniyah);
Saida oil facility, Tirbespiye;
Qasf, Sarrin (Sirîn);
Al Qaws oil facility, Cil Axa;
Power station, Qamishli (Qamişlo);
Jalabiyah, Kobani (Kobanê) (2 killed);
Al-Rakbah, Tell Tamer;
Electricity substation, west of Hasakah;
Amuda electricity station;
Al-Zarba oil facility, Tirbespiye;
Dardara, Tell Tamer;
Odeh oil facility, Tirbespiye;
Qamishli construction site.
More airstrikes are reportedly ongoing overnight.
Turkish drone attack causes panic in IDP camp
The Kurdistan Red Crescent Society, Heyva Sor a Kurdistanê, has released alarming footage of a Turkish drone attack near a camp for displaced people in northern Syria.
The incident took place in the Washokani camp, where many displaced people were present, including visitors and patients seeking help at the Kurdish Red Crescent centre.
The camp is currently home to around 16,000 IDPs from Ras al-Ain (Serê Kaniyê) who were forced to flee in the wake of Turkey’s 2019 military operation.
Turkish drones flew dangerously close to the camp, causing panic among the displaced. In response to the attack, the centre’s ambulances immediately rushed to the site to assess the situation and provide any necessary assistance.
SDF Spox Ferhad Shami: “Turkey’s ‘Kurdish phobia’ will eventually backfire”
In a Twitter discussion hosted by journalist Amed Dicle on Thursday evening, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) spokesperson Ferhad Shami disclosed that Turkey had targeted 47 different locations throughout Thursday as part of its ongoing attacks against North and East Syria, the Kurdish-led region defended by the SDF. Shami warned that Turkey’s reliance on military and intelligence operations to solve its problems is not only failing, but also worsening the country’s own internal crises.
Shami emphasised that the Kurdish people are actively responding to Turkey’s aggression and will continue to do so. He added that this resistance is not just coming from local Kurds, but is a sentiment echoed by the global Kurdish community.
“Turkey’s ‘Kurdish phobia’ will eventually backfire,” he added.
He also stressed the international community’s growing awareness of Turkey’s actions, urging listeners to contribute to highlighting Turkey’s crises.
Addressing the recent downing of a Turkish drone by US forces stationed in Syria, Shami indicated that such an action would not have been possible without the approval of the US authorities.
Pentagon confirms US intercepted Turkish drone near US troops
The Pentagon has confirmed that the United States shot down a Turkish drone in north-eastern Syria after it approached American troops. US military officials had previously warned Turkey against flying drones near US forces.
Pentagon spokesman Brigadier General Patrick Ryder said in a press briefing that the incident occurred inside a US restricted area of operations, with the drone coming within half a kilometre of American troops before being intercepted. US troops were taken to bunkers as a precaution.
Although Ryder described the incident as regrettable, there was no initial indication that Turkey had deliberately targeted US forces and no US personnel were harmed.
Protests in European cities
Kurds and their supporters in Europe have been on the streets in several cities in protest against the Turkish offensives in North and East Syria.
“Civilians must be protected”: UN shares social media message
The United Nations has posted on social media, saying:
“Civilians and civilian infrastructure are #NotATarget. They must be protected. At all times. Everywhere.”
The post comes on the same day as Turkey’s widespread targeting of civilian infrastructure throughout Kurdish-led North and East Syria.
Nine killed in Turkish strikes amounting to war crimes: SDF spokesperson
Farhad Shami, the head of the media and information office for the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), accused Turkey of committing war crimes by targeting critical infrastructure and civilian services, including power stations, oil fields and factories.
According to Shami, the ongoing strikes have resulted in nine deaths so far. Three of the victims were civilians, while the other six were members of the region’s internal security forces guarding the civilian facilities which were targeted. Shami went on to describe Turkey’s actions as a form of “state terrorism”.
Shami also expressed concern about what he described as systematic Turkish attempts to justify their actions. He said these gave clear indications of an intention to commit ethnic cleansing and genocide against the affected community. Despite these challenges, Shami emphasised the SDF’s determination to prevent such atrocities.
Two workers injured in Turkish drone attack in civilian constuction company
Two workers were injured in a Turkish air-strike on the Cizre Construction company located in the city centre of Qamishli (Qamişlo), North and East Syria, on Thursday evening. Journalist Mahir Üzmez reported the attack, which was conducted by a drone.
Civil administrations in North and East Syria’s Arab cities urge no-fly zone
The civilian administrations in North and East Syria’s Arab-majority cities of Manbij (Minbic) and Tabqa (Tebqa) have issued a plea for North and East Syria’s airspace to be closed, citing escalating attacks by the Turkish military. In their statement, Manbij’s Democratic Civilian Administration called on the international community to meet their legal, moral, and humanitarian obligations in the face of Turkey’s sustained aggression. The statement underscores Turkey’s intent to destabilise the region and harm its residents. Both administrations stressed the imperative to close the airspace and establish a no-fly zone ensure the safety of local communities.
Turkish President signs motion to authorise troop deployment in Iraq and Syria
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has signed a presidential motion for a two-year extension of a pre-existing authorisation to deploy Turkish troops to Iraq and Syria. The motion has been forwarded to the Turkish parliament.
WSJ: US official confirms American F-16 jet shot down Turkish drone over North and East Syria
Speaking to the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) on Thursday, a US official confirmed that an American F-16 jet shot down a Turkish drone over Kurdish-led North and East Syria. The drone was considered a threat to the approximately 900 US troops stationed in Syria, who are collaborating with Kurdish-led forces against ISIS. While Turkey denied the drone belonged to its military, a US official speaking to WSJ confirmed it was an armed Turkish drone.
PYD’s Foza Yusif calls for resilience and national unity in the face of Turkish attacks
Foza Yusif, a member of the PYD Presidential Council, addressed Turkey’s recent attacks in northern and eastern Syria, describing the Turkish government as the “new ISIS” and warning that its actions pose a global threat.
Yusif criticised the Syrian government’s silence, saying it had a responsibility to protect its borders and citizens. She also called on the United Nations to take action against “war crimes”. Yusif called for unity among the people of north-eastern Syria, saying that no attack would shake their resolve and that the day was a call for national support.
“Portraying PKK and YPG as linked is a gross distortion”: HPG
Turkey’s attempts to tie Sunday’s attack in Ankara to Kurdish-led Syrian groups is part of its “special war” tactics, the Kurdistan Workers’ Party’s (PKK) armed wing said in a statement.
“Portraying the PKK and the People’s Protection Units (YPG) as intrinsically linked is a gross distortion,” the group said.
“Members of the Immortals Brigade have in no way travelled to Ankara from northeastern Syria,” they added. The militants who detonated an explosive at the police headquarters in the Turkish capital “have no connections with anybody engaged in legal politics”, according to the PKK.
The Sunday attack is behind Turkey’s current airstrikes in Syria, with the foreign minister saying PKK-affiliated infrastructure and facilities in Syria and Iraq were “legitimate targets” from then on.
Turkish forces bomb oil fields in northern Syria
Turkish drone strikes hit three oil facilities in north-eastern Syria, including the Saeeda oil station on the outskirts of Qamishli. In addition, oil stations in the village of Gerdahol in the Tirbe Spiyeh (al-Qahtaniya) region and the Alaqosa oil station in northern Chel Agha (al-Jawadiyah) were targeted. The attacks caused huge fires.
“Turkey accuses North and East Syria in order to further occupy Syrian territory”: YPG spokesperson
“What Hakan Fidan and Turkish government officials say about North and East Syria being linked to the Ankara attack is not true,” the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) spokesperson Nuri Mahmoud told Shar Press on Thursday.
“They always throw these accusations against North and East Syria in order to further occupy Syrian territory,” Mahmoud added.
AANES condemns Turkish airstrikes in northern Syria
The Executive Council of the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria has condemned Turkey’s attacks on northern Syria and the targeting of vital facilities and civilians.
Turkey’s airstrikes targeting several locations in the Kurdish-held region are impeding efforts to combat the Islamic State, the council’s co-chair Hussein Osman said.
Osman called for Russian and American intervention as the two states are ceasefire guarantors in the region, and urged the international community to take a firm stance.
Ankara’s claim that perpetrators of Sunday’s attacks on the police headquarters in the Turkish capital were connected to Syrian Kurds and the Syrian Democratic Forces is “false and baseless”, and aimed to “export domestic problems and turn public opinion against Syrians”, Osman said.
Airstrikes damage power plant, water station
Turkish airstrikes have heavily damaged the Amuda power plant and the Alouk water station, leaving large residential areas without water or electricity, Jin TV reported. Local station Ronahi TV released video of the power plant on fire.
Ronahi TV, Amude'de Türk ordusu tarafından bombalanan elektrik santralını görüntüledi. pic.twitter.com/yHCJIyKPe3
— Amed Dicle (@ameddicleT) October 5, 2023
Turkish drone downed
Local sources report that an alleged Turkish drone was downed near al Hasakah (Heseke) in northern Syria on Thursday.
The drone had approached a US military base, according to North Press Agency Arabic’s chief editor Hoshang Hassan, who pointed to the US-led Global Coalition against ISIS as responsible.
Other sources claim it was the US Air Force that targeted Turkey’s Anka-S drone, manufactured by the state-owned Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI), and that the aircraft in question was an American F-35 fighter jet.
More reports followed the incident that Coalition aircraft continued their patrols along the Turkish border, “likely to deter further Turkish attacks”, journalist Amberin Zaman wrote.
The downing of the drone came amid Turkish airstrikes on vital civilian infrastructure, including in Hasakah, Qamishlo and Amuda. The increased military activity in the region coincided with US patrols already underway.
Turkey’s attacks follow Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan’s Wednesday declaration that any and all infrastructure that Ankara considers to be connected to groups Turkey considers to be terrorists were “legitimate targets” after the Sunday attack on the top police headquarters in the Turkish capital.