Car bombing injures civilians in north Syria's Kurdish-majority city of Afrin
AFRIN, Syria (Kurdistan 24) – At least six civilians were wounded in a car bombing in Syria’s northwest city of Afrin that has been under the control of Turkish-backed militias for just over two years, local sources said on Saturday.
The explosion occurred near a recently established bridge in the center of Afrin city, by a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (VBEID) attached to a Suzuki car, the Syria-based war monitor Afrin Post reported.
Two of those injured were reported in critical condition, one of them a Kurdish worker in a juice shop nearby, the monitor said.
“The Turkish-backed armed groups which occupied the city in March 2018 have told people at the explosion site that Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have carried out the explosion, but people nearby said the explosion was due to infighting among the Turkish-backed groups,” an activist living in Afrin told Kurdistan 24 on condition of anonymity.
The activist added that dozens of Turkish-backed militia members left Afrin and headed to Idlib because their salaries have been cut by Turkish authorities in the past two months.
“The security situation of the city was disturbed as one group called the Turkish-backed police asked other militant groups to stay in Afrin, but the latter refused and headed to Idlib and this resulted in some infighting among the groups, including sporadic clashes and the car bomb explosion today,” the activist added.
On April 8, another explosion occurred in which three civilians were injured when an oil tank was blown apart by an IED attached to the tank in the Ashrafiyah neighborhood.
Activists in the city claimed that the explosions were planned by the Turkish-backed groups with the aim of spreading confusion and panic among the indigenous Kurdish residents of Afrin in order to cause them to leave the area as part of their greater anti-Kurdish program of ethnic cleansing.
Multiple human rights organizations and media outlets have documented multiple credible claims that, since the occupation of Afrin began in March 2018, Turkish-backed armed groups have regularly committed various violations and war crimes, primary among them ethnic cleansing, kidnapping, extortion, murder, rape, and the looting and destruction of property.
In February 2019, the United Nations’ Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria released a report charging that armed groups in Afrin were guilty of war crimes including “hostage-taking, cruel treatment, torture, and pillage.” It stated that “the most common violations perpetrated in Afrin involved frequent abductions by armed groups and criminal gangs.”
As recently as early March of this year, the commission again released evidence that it had found reasonable grounds to believe that the militias “perpetrated the war crime of murder and repeatedly committed the war crime of pillaging, further seriously contravening the right to enjoyment of possessions and property.”
Currently, over 100,000 residents are still estimated to be in the area, living under the harsh security and economic conditions that they have faced since Turkey took control of the Kurdish-majority region.
Editing by John J. Catherine