Turkish-targeted areas in northern Syria have been subjected to 34 drone attacks since the beginning of 2023, resulting in the loss of 44 lives and leaving 27 others injured, according to a report released on Thursday by the North Press Agency.
While Turkish drone strikes primarily aim to target Kurdish forces, the casualties encompass a diverse group, including 28 members of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), 17 Syrian government forces, four Russian soldiers, and 22 civilians, including six women and two children.
The data provides a timeline of the strikes, revealing that January witnessed nine attacks, followed by three in February. The intensity of the strikes temporarily subsided in April, with only two incidents recorded. However, May saw a resurgence with five documented attacks, and June alone witnessed the highest number of strikes, totalling 15 incidents.
In the most recent attack, a Turkish drone targeted a civilian vehicle, resulting in the deaths of two civilian officials of the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (AANES) and a driver.
Consequently, the AANES has called upon the United States and Russia, the guarantor states of the 2019 ceasefire agreement, to fulfil their responsibilities in implementing the deal.
Turkey had signed two ceasefire agreements following its incursion into northeastern Syria in October 2019, one with Russia and the other with the United States, which mandated the cessation of hostilities and the withdrawal of the SDF from the Turkish border by a distance of 32 kilometres.
While the SDF claims to have complied with the agreement by withdrawing from the border areas, Turkey continues to target the region. Turkey has launched three military operations in northern Syria since 2016, resulting in territorial gains in some Kurdish-populated regions.
Ankara argues that the Kurdish forces in Syria are extensions of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which Turkey considers a terrorist group and a threat to its national security. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan stated at the end of the previous year that Turkey would take new steps in 2023 “to eliminate threats”.
Meanwhile, Turkey’s escalating strikes against Kurdish forces face objections from Washington due to concerns that they may lead to the resurgence of the Islamic State (ISIS).