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Thousands in north Syria mourn victims of Turkish raids

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Syria: Thousands attended Monday the funerals of 11 people killed in Turkish strikes in northeastern Syria targeting Kurdish militants, an AFP correspondent said. "The martyrs are not dead," the mourners chanted, and "Long live Rojava" -- the name Kurds in Syria give to their region. Turkey hit dozens of targets in northern Syria as well as northern Iraq overnight into Sunday, a week after a deadly attack in Istanbul which Ankara has blamed on the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK). Kurdish groups and authorities have denied responsibility for the November 13 attack that killed six people.


The Turkish offensive against the bases of outlawed Kurdish militants, codenamed Operation Claw-Sword, killed at least 35 people, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. The overnight raids targeted border areas in Syria controlled by the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), including Kobane in the north and Al-Malikiyah in the far northeast.


Thousands gathered Monday to bury Al-Malikiyah's 11 victims, including a journalist working for a Kurdish news agency, with the bodies draped in the red-white-and-green Kurdish flag, the AFP correspondent said. The strikes on the small city also destroyed a nearby power plant, according to the Observatory, which relies on a wide network of sources in Syria.


"We urge the world, all those who care about human rights and the great powers" to press Turkey to stop its strikes that "target us with planes and drones", a mourner named Shaaban, 58, told AFP during the funerals. The SDF said one of its fighters had been killed, as well as 11 civilians and 15 Syrian regime soldiers, while the Observatory said the 35 deaths included 18 Kurdish or allied forces and 16 regime soldiers.


On Monday, in an apparent retaliation against Ankara, rockets fired from Syria hit Turkey's border town of Karkamis, killing three people including a child, according to the Turkish interior minister. Turkey has launched waves of attacks on Syria since 2016 targeting Kurdish militias as well as the Islamic State group, and Ankara and forces backed by it have seized territory along the Syrian border. Since May, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been threatening to launch a new operation in northern Syria.


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