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3 killed as Syrian Kurdish militants fire rockets at Turkish border town

Turkey says child and teacher among dead after high school, house and border gate struck; rights group says Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces responsible for attack

Fighters of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) take part in a military parade in the US-protected Al-Omar oil field in the eastern province of Deir Ezzor on March 23, 2021, marking the second annual anniversary of Baghouz's liberation from the Islamic State (IS) group. (Delil SOULEIMAN / AFP)
Fighters of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) take part in a military parade in the US-protected Al-Omar oil field in the eastern province of Deir Ezzor on March 23, 2021, marking the second annual anniversary of Baghouz's liberation from the Islamic State (IS) group. (Delil SOULEIMAN / AFP)

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Suspected Kurdish militants in Syria fired rockets across the border into Turkey on Monday, killing at least three people and wounding 10 others, officials said. The attack followed deadly airstrikes by Turkey on suspected militant targets in Syria and Iraq.

The rockets struck a high school and two houses in the town of Karkamis, in Gaziantep province, as well as a truck near a Turkish-Syria border gate, the state-run Anadolu Agency reported.

Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said the dead include a teacher and a child. One of the rockets landed on the grounds of a high school but there were no fatalities there.

A soldier and seven police officers were wounded overnight in separate shelling by suspected Kurdish militants that targeted a border area in nearby Kilis, Soylu said.

Turkey would respond to the attacks “in the strongest way possible,” the minister said.

The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces opened fire toward Karkamis from its positions near the Syrian border town of Kobani, according to Rami Abdurrahman, who heads the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an opposition war monitor. He added that Turkish troops retaliated by firing toward SDF positions on the Syrian side of the border but there was no word on casualties yet.

While Kurdish-led forces in Syria have not commented nor claimed responsibility for the attacks, the Syrian Democratic Forces in a statement Monday vowed to respond to Turkish airstrikes “effectively and efficiently at the right time and place.”

The rocket attacks came days after Turkey launched deadly airstrikes over northern regions of Syria and Iraq, targeting Kurdish groups that Ankara holds responsible for a Nov. 13 bomb attack in Istanbul. The bomb rocked a bustling avenue in the heart of Istanbul on Nov. 13, killing six people and wounding over 80 others.

Turkish authorities blamed the attack on the PKK and its Syrian affiliate the YPG. The Kurdish militant groups have, however, denied involvement.

The Turkish warplanes attacked bases of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, and the Syrian People’s Protection Units, or YPG on Saturday and Sunday. Turkish officials claimed that a total of 89 targets were destroyed and a “large number” of what it designated “terrorists” were killed in strikes.

The Observatory said 35 people were killed in airstrikes over the weekend including 18 Kurdish fighters, 16 Syrian government soldiers, and a journalist for a local media outlet.

On Monday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan signaled Turkey was also contemplating a ground incursion against the militant groups, saying the operation would not be “limited to an air campaign.” Turkey’s Defense Ministry and military would hold discussions on the number of ground troops that would be required, he added.

“We will hold our consultations and then we will take steps accordingly,” Turkish media quoted Erdogan saying.

In this Nov. 17, 2014 photo, smoke rises from the Syrian city of Kobane, following an airstrike by the US-led coalition, seen from a hilltop outside Suruc, on the Turkey-Syria border. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda, File)

Turkey has launched three major incursions into northern Syria since 2016 and already controls some territories in the north.

Ankara and Washington both consider the PKK a terror group, but disagree on the status of the YPG. Under the banner of the Syrian Democratic Forces, the YPG has been allied with the US in the fight against the Islamic State group in Syria.

The PKK has fought an armed insurgency in Turkey since 1984. The conflict has killed tens of thousands of people since then.

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