‘More civilians killed’ in Turkey’s Syria campaign
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.