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Turkish warplanes strike Kurdish militia targets in Syria

File photo: The Kurdish city of Afrin, in northwest Syria

Turkish warplanes hit Kurdish YPG militia targets in Syria’s Afrin region, the army said on Friday, after a lull in air strikes following the shooting down of Russian warplane elsewhere in Syria last weekend.

The air strikes destroyed 19 targets including ammunition depots, shelters and gun positions, the armed forces said in a statement without specifying when the raids were conducted. The raids began at midnight, state-run Anadolu news agency said.

Turkey had halted air strikes as Russia worked on its air defence system in the wake of Syrian rebels shooting down a Russian warplane in Idlib province on Feb. 3, according to the Hurriyet newspaper’s website.

Ankara launched an air and ground offensive in Afrin on Jan. 20 against the YPG, which it views as a terrorist group and an extension of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) that has waged a three-decade insurgency on Turkish soil.

Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdogan and Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke by telephone on Thursday and agreed to strengthen military and security service coordination in Syria, according to the Kremlin.

The YPG and its allies have set up three autonomous cantons in the north, including Afrin, since the Syrian conflict began in 2011.

Their territory has expanded since they joined forces with the United States to fight Islamic State militants – although Washington opposes their autonomy plans, as does Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government.

Ankara has been angered by U.S. support for the Kurdish-led forces has infuriated Turkey, which views growing Kurdish power as a security threat along its frontier.

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