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Turkey accused of war crime in drone strike

Kurds say Turkish military provided air cover for jihadists’ attempt to free fellow fanatics

TURKEY has been accused of war crimes in northern Syria after its military attacked a convoy of vehicles rushing to a prison camp under attack by Isis militants, who were trying free fellow jihadists held there.

A Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) vehicle was struck by a missile fired from a Turkish drone close to the village of Tiwena near Til Temir in Hasaka province on Friday. 

According to local sources, a leading Kurdish official was killed in the air strike, amid accusations that Turkey is effectively providing air cover for Isis.

The convoy was carrying reinforcements to Ghwayran prison, where Kurdish forces and local security services were struggling to contain an attempt to free jihadist inmates.

At least 17 SDF soldiers and Asayish members were killed and 23 injured as Isis fighters attacked the prison complex.

It is believed that about 200 militants were involved in the assault, which, Isis said, aimed to “free the prisoners.”

One of the Isis cells involved in the attacks was reportedly a group of Uighur prisoners, a number of whom were killed.

“Fierce clashes” broke out in the north of Ghwayran, while Kurdish forces raided civilian homes where fleeing jihadists were believed to be hiding.

The SDF said that 175 Isis fighters had been killed and 110 captured during the battle to regain control. Five civilians also died, with one rumoured to have been beheaded.

A journalist with the local self-defence forces was reportedly killed and a reporter from the Hawar news station was injured.

According to officials of the region’s autonomous administration, “thousands have fled their homes near the prison,” with many heading to nearby areas where they have relatives.

The United States provided air support to the SDF, with Apache helicopters firing machine guns from above the compound as troops on the ground sought to stabilise the situation amid the continued fighting.

SDF spokesman Ferhad Shami called for Turkey to be put on trial for its continued support of Isis, warning of “a very serious and dangerous situation.”

He said that the latest Isis assault was not merely an attack on a prison but indicated a new strategy by the death cult and its attempted revival, which is backed by Ankara.

“This problem will not be resolved unless the forces and states that support the Isis mercenaries, the Turkish state in primis, are not prosecuted,” he insisted.

“Therefore, this must be well understood. Behind Isis are intelligence, military and state power. This needs to be well understood and addressed accordingly.

“In order for Isis to end, first of all, the sources that feed it must be dried up.”

The Syrian government accused the US military of committing war crimes and crimes against humanity as it demanded the withdrawal of US forces from north-eastern Syria and that of Turkish troops from the north-west.

Damascus hit out after US warplanes destroyed the Technical Institute in Hasaka city on the pretext of targeting escapees that it claimed were hiding there.

The Russian Defence Ministry warned that by resorting to the use of warplanes, the US threatened the lives of civilians and damage to infrastructure.

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