BEIRUT (AP) — A rocket struck a residential area in a northern Syrian town controlled by Turkey-backed opposition fighters on Wednesday, killing at least three people and wounding others, opposition activist said.
Some activists said that the rocket was fired on Tel Abyad by the U.S.-backed Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, a claim that the group denied.
The attack came hours after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the Turkish army will soon “clear” the northern Syrian towns of Manbij and Tel Rifaat of “terrorists,” referring to Syria’s main Kurdish militia known as the People’s Protection Units, or YPG. Erdogan has been speaking about a new incursion for weeks without saying when such an offensive would start.
Turkey has launched four major operations in Syria since 2016, mainly targeting the YPG. Ankara claims its own outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, inside Turkey and the YPG in Syria are one and the same.
The PKK is considered a terrorist organization in Turkey, Europe and the United States. It has led an armed insurgency against the Turkish state since 1984, and the conflict has killed tens of thousands of people.
Baladi news, an activist collective, reported that three people were killed and 10 were wounded in Tel Abyad, while the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an opposition war monitor, said four were killed and several others were wounded in the attack.
The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces issued a statement denying its fighters had fired any rocket toward Tel Abyad, which has been under control of Turkey-backed fighters since 2019, and said that an unknown drone fired the rocket.