A Turkish air raid killed as many as 200 Kurdish militia north of the Syrian city of Aleppo, according to a statement from the Turkish military.
Turkish military says they hit 18 targets with 26 airstrikes in the areas under the control of Kurdish militia, destroying their headquarters, ammunition dumps and shelters.
The statement said one Free Syrian Army fighter died and another one was injured in a series of clashes with the PYD/PKK.
The PYD is a Kurdish opposition party with links to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK — an entity Turkey has long designated a terror group and has been fighting for years.
In recent months, much of Turkey’s firepower has been directed at the Kurdish separatist PKK in southeastern Turkey and across the border in northern Iraq. It has also occasionally shelled ISIS positions in northern Syria, but its last-known airstrikes against ISIS were in November last year.
The Turkish leadership has strongly expressed a desire to be part of the Iraqi-led coalition to oust ISIS from the northern Iraqi town of Mosul, just across the Syrian border, but Iraq’s government has so far rejected the overtures.
Bombs over al Bab
The PYD and PKK, a Kurdish militant group, took control of five residential area near al Bab, more than 40 kilometers outside the besieged city of Aleppo, extending the area they controlled to the east, according to the Turkish military.
In response, Turkey hit 13 PKK/PYD targets and 24 additional ones belonging to ISIS.
The YPG, a Kurdish militia, said in a statement that Turkey carried out nearly 20 airstrikes against fighters from the YPG-affiliated Jaish al-Thuwar, or Revolutionary Front, which was advancing against ISIS in the eastern part of the city of Ifrin.
A Jaish al-Thuwar statement said the Turkish airstrikes were helping ISIS, accusing Turkish-backed forces of being ISIS allies.
This is the biggest single attack by Turkish forces on the Kurdish forces since Turkey launched Operation Euphrates Shield two months ago, an incursion into northern Syria backing some Syrian rebels.
One ISIS member was also killed at a village in the Aqil mountains. The Turkish military did not provide a timeframe for the attacks.
Lull in Aleppo airstrikes
The Turkish air raid happened around the time a Russian-declared “humanitarian pause” went into effect Thursday in east Aleppo.
The Russian Defense Ministry unexpectedly announced the pause Tuesday after a weeks-long bombardment of the city. The airstrikes and the rising death toll received fierce criticism from Western powers.
The “humanitarian pause,” intended to allow civilians and rebels to leave the rebel-held section of the besieged Syrian city, began at 8 a.m. local time (1 a.m. ET) is set to last for 11 hours.
Russia has urged rebels to withdraw from the area using two corridors that lead to the rebel-held Idlib province. However, rebel groups have told CNN they have no intention of accepting the offer.
Six other corridors will reportedly be available to civilians who want to leave the besieged area, home to more than 250,000 people. Despite the reports, residents of east Aleppo tell CNN that, as of now, there is no clear sign of such corridors.
After Thursday’s pause ends at 7 p.m. local time, the Syrian army said the “humanitarian pause” would continue during the same 11-hour timeframe on both Friday and Saturday.
Syrian military to rebels: Take amnesty offer
The Syrian military urged armed rebels in east Aleppo to “to leave their weapons, with assurances that they will benefit from the amnesty decree,” according to a statement Wednesday from the General Command of the Armed Forces.
The statement referenced a prior government decree that said rebels who lay down their arms would receive “amnesty” along with an opportunity to be transferred with their families to other parts of the country under rebel control.
In addition, the Syrian military also reiterated past warnings that “the army and armed forces have accurate information on the locations of the gunmen” as well as their locations.
“Anyone who does not make use of the available opportunity will face their inevitable fate,” the Syrian military statement said.