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Iran Press TV

Ankara says military had informed Washington, Moscow of air raid

Iran Press TV

Wed Apr 26, 2017 1:32PM

Turkish officials say the United States and Russia were informed in advance of a recent airstrike carried out on the positions of suspected Kurdish militants in Syria and Iraq.

Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Wednesday that the Turkish military had informed Washington and Moscow on the attack a day earlier that targeted Kurdish-dominated areas in Syria and neighboring Iraq.

"Two hours before this operation, we shared information with the US and Russia that we would undertake an operation," Cavusoglu said, adding that Ankara had also told Washington in the "last few weeks" that such military operations would be carried out.

Turkey claims 70 suspected Kurdish militants were killed in the attack on what it has described as "terrorist havens" in Syria and Iraq. Sources on the ground, however, say more than two dozen were killed in the air raid, which faced swift ire in Washington. The US Department of State said it was "deeply concerned" the strike was conducted "without proper coordination" either with the US military or commanders within a broader international coalition, which claims to be fighting Daesh Takfiri terrorists in Iraq and Syria.

Cavusoglu, however, who was speaking to reporters in Uzbekistan, said Ankara had nothing to hide and that it was entitled to "a legitimate right" to intervene militarily in Syria and Iraq to repel threats. The top diplomat said the air raids were not necessarily a violation of the sovereignty of Iraq and Syria.

"There are terrorists that enter Turkey via different paths," he said, adding, "Turkey acts transparently on all issues. We have no secret agenda... We respect Syria and Iraq's territorial integrity."

Both Iraq and Syria have repeatedly criticized Turkey for attacks and deployments of troops in the two countries.

The Iraqi government condemned the recent air raid, saying it violated the Arab country's sovereignty.

The Kurdistan regional government also denounced as "unacceptable" Turkey's airstrike, which killed at least six peshmerga Kurdish fighters.

Turkey has defended its intervention in Iraq and Syria, claiming it seeks to prevent a potential spillover of the conflict into its territory.

In a new development on Wednesday, the Turkish military said it had retaliated in kind against a mortar attack from the Syrian territories under the control of the government. There was no comment from Damascus.

Turkey has also been at odds with the United States over military action in Syria, which Washington says is mainly aimed at countering the rising influence of Kurdish fighters in the country. Ankara says Kurdish militants fighting Daesh in Syria are an extension of outlawed Kurdish groups in Turkey. The US has supported Syrian Kurds and claims they could finally recapture the city of Raqqah, the de facto capital of Daesh in Syria.

A monitoring group said on Wednesday that the death toll from Turkish raids north of Syria had reached 28. The so-called Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said most of the dead belonged to the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG), the main Syrian Kurdish militia group fighting Daesh. The observatory said 19 people were also injured in the raids, adding that a major media center in the border province of Hasakah was also targeted in the attacks.

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