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Defense Minister: Turkey’s Military Has Struck Nearly 500 Kurdish Targets

Turkey’s military has struck nearly 500 Kurdish targets in Iraq and Syria, the country’s defense minister said Wednesday. Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar told the official Andolu news agency that Operation Claw-Sword, which was launched on Sunday, has so far struck 471 targets, and “neutralized” 254 terrorists.

The announcement comes a day after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday threatened to launch a ground operation into Syria to “root out” all of the “terrorists.”

Erdogan has blamed Kurdish groups – the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in northern Iraq as well as at the Kurdish People’s Protection group (YPG) along the Syrian border – for a deadly bombing in Istanbul on November 13 that killed six and wounded dozens more. For their part, Kurdish groups have denied any involvement in the blast. The female assailant who carried out the bombing is said to be of Syrian extraction and had entered Turkey through Afrin in northern Syria, according to Turkish media reports.