ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – US-backed Kurdish forces battling the Islamic State (IS) in Syria on Thursday said Turkey intensified cross-border assaults in the last two weeks on the isolated Afrin enclave in the northwest.
In a press release on its website, the People’s Protection Units (YPG) stated that the Turkish army was also using its proxies in the neighboring areas of Azaz toward the east and Idlib in the south to stage mortar attacks on Afrin’s civilian population areas.
Among them were over a dozen villages mostly concentrating on the border with Turkey in the west and north of Afrin ruled by a self-declared administration, a part of the Kurdish-led autonomy known as Rojava or Northern Syria.
“From Nov. 18 on, the Turkish military and its gangs have employed DShKs, BKCs, RPG7s, SPG9s, tanks, Howitzers, and mortars,” the release read.
The YPG gave no account of any casualties, civilian or militant.
Jandairis (Cindirêsê in Kurdish), Bulbul, and Sherawa districts came under occasional fire as unmanned Turkish aerial vehicles continued to surveil, it said.
There was no official Turkish statement on the border skirmishes with Kurdish forces.
Turkey has for months been beefing up its military presence in its southern Hatay and Kilis provinces bordering Afrin, as a National Security Committee headed by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan this week urged deployment of forces in the Kurdish area.
The YPG claimed at least one Turkish soldier was wounded.
A fact sheet published 10 days ago by the Kurdish forces revealed there had been 586 Turkish attacks on Afrin since the beginning of the year.
The Kurds said Turkish UAVs crossed the border 66 times while helicopters staged assaults another six times.
In total, 12 civilians, among them a 14-year-old child and a pregnant woman, died in those attacks while 21 others were wounded, the fact sheet said.
Tensions between Ankara and US-armed Syrian Kurds have risen in the past several months, as the Turkish government repeatedly promised to stage an invasion in Afrin.
Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu on Thursday once again designated Afrin as a national security threat to his country and said a Turkish incursion could be imminent to “clear the area from terrorists.”
Battle-hardened Kurds who led a months-long coalition-supported campaign to capture the IS capital of Raqqa in eastern Syria vowed to defend Rojava, including Afrin.
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany