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Turkey kills 'up to 200' US-backed Kurdish rebels in Syria

Turkish jets bomb series of positions held by Kurdish rebels who are allied to Washington in the fight against Islamic State
Fighters from the Kurdish YPG in northern Syria, above, are seen by Washington as an effective force against IS (AFP)

Turkish warplanes have struck Kurdish militia targets in northern Syria and killed up to 200 fighters, state media quoted the military as saying on Thursday.

The jets hit 18 targets in Maarrat Umm Hawsh, a region north of the city of Aleppo, the official news agency Anadolu said.

The army claimed 160 to 200 members of the YPG (People's Protection Units) militia were killed in the strikes on Wednesday night.

The figure from the Turkish armed forces has yet to be independently confirmed. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights confirmed the raids but could not give a death toll. 

Andalou said nine buildings used as YPG headquarters, meeting points, shelters and weapons depots were destroyed as well as four vehicles.

Ankara sees the YPG and the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) as terror groups linked to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).

The PKK, proscribed as a terrorist organisation by the United States and the European Union, has waged a bloody insurgency against the Turkish state since 1984.

Tensions between Turkey and the US have increased over the YPG whom Washington views as an effective force against the Islamic State group in Syria.

But Ankara has repeatedly said it will not allow a "terror corridor" on its southern border and wants to prevent the joining of the Kurdish "cantons" of Afrin and Kobane.

Turkey launched an unprecedented military operation in northern Syria on 24 August, sending in tanks and striking IS targets while supporting Syrian opposition fighters in retaking IS controlled territory.

The goal of the operation was to remove IS from its border - which last month Ankara said it had achieved - while also aiming to halt the westward advance of the YPG.

During a speech in Ankara on Wednesday President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that Turkey would not "wait for terrorist organisations to come and attack us". He added: "These organisations, wherever their activities are, wherever they are nesting, we will go."

This article is available in French on Middle East Eye French edition.

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