AFRIN, Syrian Kurdistan (Kurdistan 24) – Dozens of civilians have lost their lives in the intensive airstrikes and shelling by the Turkish army on Syria’s Kurdish-run northwest region of Afrin, Kurdish authorities there said on Sunday.
Kurdistan 24 correspondent Mohamad Billo in Afrin said the Turkish warplanes and artillery heavily bombarded the region from four sides.
In Jandaris town, south of Afrin city, Turkish warplanes conducted several airstrikes on the area and surrounding villages of Ramadiya, Hamelka, and Hajiler, killing eight civilians and injuring 12 others in addition to heavily damaging homes and properties.
In Rajo town, west of Afrin, which the Turkish army said it had entirely controlled, Kurdistan 24 learned from fighters in the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) that heavy clashes were ongoing until Sunday morning between the Turkish-backed Syrian rebels and the SDF fighters.
An SDF statement also confirmed that a group of Turkish forces and allied Syrian factions had infiltrated Rajo, where it said clashes were continuing between SDF forces and the attackers.
In Mabatli town, west of Afrin, several civilians were killed, and four were wounded in airstrikes by Turkish warplanes.
On another front east of Afrin, the SDF said in an online statement that Turkish warplanes struck a series of villages around Sharan town in addition to artillery shelling, where several civilians were killed and dozens injured.
So far, no accurate number of casualties was reported, due to the difficulty in communication as Turkish airstrikes target mobile and internet networks and towers.
In a village called Masha’la, west of Afrin, the SDF reported that five civilians lost their lives and several were wounded, adding that rescue teams were unable to reach the area due to intensive airstrikes by Turkish warplanes.
YPG AND TURKISH CASUALTIES
The SDF—which the People’s Protection Units (YPG) and the all-female brigade of Women’s Protection Units (YPJ) are the leading components—in a statement said they had lost seven of their fighters in the past few days.
“Our fighters Khedro Sheo, Shiyar Yousef, Hasan Hisen, Julia Sako, Diyar Omar, Afshar Mustafalo, and Saleem Baran won the honor of martyrdom in Afrin,” the SDF statement read.
Additionally, Turkish warplanes struck pro-Syrian government forces in the region, killing at least 36 of them, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
The SDF said in a statement that Turkish airstrikes had targeted positions held by the Syrian army’s “popular forces” from 5:00 a.m. (03:00 GMT) until 10:00 a.m. (08:00 GMT).
Regarding casualties on the Turkish side, the SDF said it destroyed a BMB armored vehicle around Chema village in Shara district, west of Afrin.
In Raju district, the SDF said their forces killed nine Turkish soldiers.
In the Jandaris area, heavy clashes erupted in Hamelka village where the SDF said they killed three fighters of the Turkish-backed Syrian rebels and nine others in Hajiler village, wounding eight more.
Last month, Turkey lost 11 troops in one day, with the YPG shooting down one of its attack helicopters.
Turkey and allied Syrian rebel groups began their operation against the YPG forces in Afrin in January, aiming to drive out the Kurdish forces, which Ankara sees as a “terrorist group” linked to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) inside Turkey’s borders.
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany
(Additional reporting by Kurdistan 24 correspondent Mohammad Billo in Afrin)