‘More civil­ians killed’ in Turkey’s Syria cam­paign

Muscat Daily - - REGION -

Afrin, Syria - Clashes and airstrikes again hit Syria’s bor­der re­gion of Afrin on Mon­day, with new civil­ian ca­su­al­ties re­ported as Turkey pur­sued an of­fen­sive against Kur­dish forces.

The op­er­a­tion, launched on Jan­uary 20, sees Turkey pro­vid­ing air and ground sup­port to Syr­ian op­po­si­tion fight­ers in an of­fen­sive against Kur­dish mili­tia in north­west­ern Syria.

Ankara, which con­sid­ers the Kur­dish Peo­ple’s Pro­tec­tion Units (YPG) in Syria a ‘ter­ror’ group, has vowed to con­tinue and pos­si­bly ex­pand the op­er­a­tion de­spite in­ter­na­tional con­cern and strained re­la­tions with Wash­ing­ton.

Turk­ish airstrikes and ar­tillery fire were con­tin­u­ing on Mon­day in north­ern and west­ern parts of a Afrin, a pre­dom­i­nantly Kur­dish re­gion of Syria on the bor­der with Turkey, ac­cord­ing to the Syr­ian Ob­ser­va­tory for Hu­man Rights mon­i­tor­ing group.

“Fight­ing has in­ten­si­fied on sev­eral fronts,” said Rami Ab­del Rah­man, the head of the Bri­tain­based Ob­ser­va­tory, which uses a net­work of long-es­tab­lished sources to monitor Syria's war.

He said pro-Turk­ish forces had cap­tured eight ar­eas near the bor­der since the start of the op­er­a­tion.

The Turk­ish mil­i­tary said on Sun­day it had seized con­trol of Mount Barsaya near the town of Afrin, a strate­gi­cally im­por­tant high point.

At least 14 peo­ple, in­clud­ing five chil­dren, died on Sun­day in Turk­ish airstrikes on the re­gion, the Ob­ser­va­tory said.

It says 55 civil­ians have been killed since the start of the of­fen­sive. Turkey strongly re­jects such claims, say­ing it is do­ing everything pos­si­ble to avoid civil­ian ca­su­al­ties in the op­er­a­tion.

At the main hospi­tal in Afrin, a pick-up truck pulled up on Sun­day car­ry­ing wounded civil­ians, in­clud­ing chil­dren in blood­stained clothes, who were rushed in­side for treat­ment.

Clouds of black smoke were seen ris­ing from the hills around Afrin, but fight­ing has not yet reached the city.

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