Turkish air strikes kill 11 Kurdish militants in southeast — army

FILE - Turkish F-16 fighter jets. (Reuters)
Updated 11 July 2017

Turkish air strikes kill 11 Kurdish militants in southeast — army

ISTANBUL: Turkish warplanes struck Kurdish militant targets in two areas of southeast Turkey overnight, killing 11 Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) fighters, the army said on Tuesday.
One air operation was conducted near the Syrian border, in the Dargecit district of Mardin province, where warplanes destroyed two gun positions and killed eight militants believed to be preparing for an attack, the army said in a statement.
It said three other PKK members were killed and a cave destroyed in air strikes in the countryside of Hakkari province, which borders Iraq and Iran.
The PKK took up arms against the Turkish state in 1984 and more than 40,000 people, mostly Kurds, have been killed in the conflict. It is designated a terrorist group by Turkey, the United States and the European Union.
A cease-fire between the Turkish state and the militants broke down in July 2015 and the southeast subsequently saw some of the worst violence since the insurgency began.


Russian mediation reopens major highway in NE Syria

Updated 53 min 17 sec ago

Russian mediation reopens major highway in NE Syria

  • Syria records 20 new cases of coronavirus in largest single-day increase

BEIRUT/DAMASCUS: Traffic returned to a major highway in northeastern Syria for the first time in seven months on Monday, following Russian mediation to reopen parts of the road captured last year by Turkey-backed opposition fighters.

Syrian Kurdish media and a Syrian Kurdish official said several vehicles accompanied by Russian troops began driving in the morning between the northern towns of Ein Issa and Tal Tamr. 

The two towns are controlled by regime forces and Syrian Kurdish fighters while the area between them is mostly held by Turkey-backed opposition fighters.

Turkish troops and allied Syrian fighters captured parts of the highway known as M4 in October, when Ankara invaded northeastern Syria to drive away Syrian Kurdish fighters. The M4 links Syria’s coastal region all the way east to the Iraqi border.

Four convoys will drive on the M4 every day with two leaving from Tal Tamr and two from Ein Issa, according to the Kurdish ANHA news agency. The report said a convoy will leave from each town at 8 a.m., and another set of convoys will do the same, three hours later.

The ANHA agency added that the opening of the highway will shorten the trip between the two towns as people previously had to take roundabout, side roads.

“This is the first time the road has been opened” since October, said Mervan Qamishlo, a spokesman for the Kurdish-led and US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces.

Russia, a main power broker with Turkey in Syria, mediated the deal to reopen the highway, he said. Russia and Turkey back rival groups in Syria’s nine-year conflict.

Coronavirus cases

Syria reported 20 new cases of the novel coronavirus on Monday, the largest single-day increase to date.

The war-torn country has recorded 106 infections and four deaths so far, and new cases have increased in recent days with the return of Syrians from abroad.

Syria has kept an overnight curfew in place but has begun to open some of its economy after a lockdown. Doctors and relief groups worry that medical infrastructure ravaged by years of conflict would make a more serious outbreak deadly and difficult to fend off.