By SETH J. FRANTZMAN
Turkey has been slammed for a drone strike in Syria that killed three women on June 23. It is the latest human rights violation by Turkey in Syria after revelations that Turkish-backed Syrian extremist groups have been kidnapping women in Afrin and holding them in secret prisons.Turkey is a NATO member. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo extended his deepest sympathies to the families of those killed on the Kobane airstrike, but did not mention Turkey by name.
Three women were killed in the airstrike on Tuesday. According to Kurdistan24 the women included Zehra Berkel, a female activist for women’s rights. Activists claimed she was targeted because Turkey’s regime increasingly has a male dominated “patriarchal face.” Local media in Syria said that the other victims of the strike were Mizgin Xelil and Amina Waysi. Social media activists have said the airstrike is yet another example of how Ankara’s role in Syria is increasingly a war on women and minorities.
Spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus, in a press statement from the US State Department, condemned the airstrike, but also did not name Turkey. It appears the US is afraid to condemn Ankara, even though it often slams and condemns the US. Washington has said that a “continued spiral of violence impedes the hope for any such resolution [of the conflict].” Ankara is accused of breaking this ceasefire via the drone strike.Turkey’s invasion and occupation of part of northern Syria has sowed chaos and instability, including fueling extremist groups and ethnic cleansing, according to numerous reports. A memo by a US official last October, when Turkey invaded Syria after threatening US forces, accused Ankara-backed groups of ethnic cleansing.Turkish pro-government media celebrated the murder of Kurdish female activist Hevrin Khalaf, a young woman who was dragged from her car, beaten and shot to death in October by Turkish-backed groups. Her killing may have been a war crime, according to officials.