Turkey bombs Kurdish forces in northeast Syria

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Turkey bombs Kurdish forces in northeast Syria

Beirut (AFP) - Turkish warplanes conducted a barrage of air strikes on Kurdish positions in northeast Syria early Tuesday, leaving several fighters dead, Kurdish forces and a monitor said.

The Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) said the strikes hit their positions near the Syrian border town of Al-Malikiyah at 2:00 am Tuesday (2300 GMT Monday).

"Turkish planes carried out a broad offensive on a YPG base that houses media and communication centres and some military installations," the YPG statement said.

"The treacherous attack killed and wounded fighters," it added, without giving a toll.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Turkey carried out "dozens of simultaneous air strikes" on YPG positions in Hasakeh province overnight, confirming that a media centre was hit.

"Three YPG members working in the media centre were killed," Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP.

According to Abdel Rahman, the strikes were the first Turkish air raids in Syria since it completed an unprecedented military campaign there in March.

Turkey launched the operation in August to fight the Islamic State group and to keep the YPG in check.

It considers the YPG to be a "terrorist" group because of its ties to outlawed Kurdish militia in southeast Turkey.

Ankara supported rebels fighting IS jihadists, but also carried out air strikes on the YPG and the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, which are YPG-dominated.

SDF fighters on Monday entered the key IS-held town of Tabqa, on the Euphrates River, as they closed in on the jihadist group's de facto capital Raqa.

The SDF said it had captured IS-held positions in west Tabqa, including a roundabout, and part of a southern district.

Syria's war has killed more than 320,000 people since it began with protests in 2011 that were violently repressed by the government of President Bashar al-Assad.