Three women SDF fighters killed in 'Turkish drone strike' in Syria

Three women SDF fighters killed in 'Turkish drone strike' in Syria
The Syrian Democratic Forces said Turkey hit a vehicle carrying three of its women fighters, one of whom was a deputy commander
2 min read
25 July, 2022
The SDF fought the Islamic State in Syria alongside local and international partners [AFP via Getty]

Three women fighters from the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), including a deputy commander, were killed in a suspected Turkish drone strike in northeast Syria on Friday, as fears rise over a potential new Turkish operation in the area.

Deputy commander Jiyan Tolhildan and fighters Barin Botan and Roj Khabur were travelling in a vehicle in the city of Qamishli when a missile hit them, the SDF, the Kurdish-led forces that control much of northeast Syria, said on Saturday.

SDF commander in chief, Mazloum Abdi said on Sunday that the three women were "heroines" who "rescued humanity" by participating in the war against the Islamic State (IS) group.

"Turkey's targeting them undermines war against ISIS. Partners must make greater efforts to stop violations. We will avenge," he said.

US Central Command said on Sunday that the deputy commander was known as Salwa Yusuk or Jiyan Afrin.

"Salwa was a critical SDF leader who led forces in combat vs ISIS since the height of the fight to defeat the vile ideology in NE Syria in 2017," CENTCOM said.

Turkey says the Kurdish-led forces in northeast Syria are tied to the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), an armed group fighting for greater Kurdish autonomy in Turkey.

Turkey and the PKK have fought each other for decades, costing tens of thousands of lives. Ankara has designated the PKK as a terrorist group.

Turkey has for months threatened to launch a large-scale operation in northern Syria with the stated aim of clearing the area of "terrorists".

Its last large-scale operation in the area, which it called Operation Peace Spring, killed scores of civilians and displaced hundreds of thousands from their homes in 2019.

Turkey also conducts bombings in Iraqi Kurdistan, where much of the PKK is based. One such bombing killed nine Iraqi tourists last week.

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