Turkish forces kill man allegedly behind Istanbul bomb attack

Ankara, Turkiye –

Turkish forces have killed an alleged mastermind behind the deadly Istanbul street bombing in an operation in northern Syria, Turkiye state news agency reported on Friday.

A man identified as Khalil Mench was “neutralized” Wednesday in an operation by Turkish intelligence services near the northern town of Qamishli, the Anadolu Agency reported.

The opposition war watchdog, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said an airstrike by a Turkish drone on Wednesday killed civilians and injured a local Kurdish police commander. The drone attack took place on the road connecting Kamyshri and Kahataniya village.

Observatory head Rami Abdulrahman said civilians killed in the strike were known to smuggle people into Turkiye. However, the man denied accusations by Turkish officials of smuggling to Turkiye Ahram Al-Bashir, a Syrian woman accused of carrying out the attack.

A November 13 bombing on Istanbul’s busy Istiklal Street killed six people, including two children. More than 80 others were injured.

Turkish officials have condemned the attack by the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and its affiliated Syrian Kurdish groups. Kurdish militants deny involvement.

At least 17 suspects have been jailed in connection with the attack, including Albashir, who was accused of leaving a TNT-laden bomb on Istiklal Avenue. Officials said at the time that the planners of the attack had fled Turkiye for Syria.

The PKK has fought armed rebels in Turkiye since 1984. The conflict has killed tens of thousands of people since then.

Turkiye has launched three large-scale incursions into Syria since 2016 targeting Syria’s main Kurdish militias and controls swaths of Syrian territory along the Joint Border.

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