Kurdish-led Syrian forces claim Turkish drone strike killed civilians near border

“I think the US should make it clear to all invaders of northeast Syria from Tal Abyad to Ras al-Ain (Serekaniye) to immediately leave within 24 hours or the US will push them out to allow people to go home.”

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Kurdish-led authorities in northern Syria on Tuesday claimed a Turkish drone strike killed two civilians in the vicinity of Derik (Malikiya), a town near the Turkish border.

The Internal Security Forces (ISF) in the Jazira Region reported the incident in a statement. It also asserted that multiple drones affiliated with “the Turkish occupation army” have been flying over Northeast Syrian towns “for some time.”

The northeast Syria-based Rojava Information Centre (RIC) organization tweeted that the drone hit a vehicle near Ain Diwar. "Two people were killed in the strike, with their bodies yet to be identified."

The suspected Turkish attack comes just over a year after Ankara launched an offensive in northern Syria on October 9, 2019, leading to the deaths of dozens of civilians and the displacement of hundreds of thousands of others.

A ceasefire deal was first reached between the US and Turkey on October 17 of that year and then another between Russia and Turkey days later on October 22 that stopped Turkish expansion attempts.

Despite this, Turkey continues drone strikes and shelling on positions held by the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

Thomas McClure, a Syria-based researcher at the RIC, told Kurdistan 24 that Turkish ceasefire violations have been ongoing every day over the past year.

“The Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED) says it has documented at least 800 ceasefire violations, including attacks, bombings, artillery strikes and drone strikes,” McClure noted.

In late June, another alleged Turkish drone strike killed three Kurdish women’s rights activists in Kobani, another town near the Turkish border that was once besieged by the Islamic State terrorist organization.

“These drone strikes have included areas around the areas of occupation, but also attacks far from the zone of occupation.”

On October 16, an eight-year-old child, Hatam Zedan Alkhel, was injured in an alleged Turkish artillery fire near Ain Issa. He later passed away from his wounds. The Turkish military observation point, according to sources, was only one kilometer away from the incident.

David Eubank, leader of the humanitarian group known as the Free Burma Rangers (FBR), who provided medical assistance, told Kurdistan 24 that Alkhel was riding his pet donkey and herding family sheep with his brothers as shells struck nearby, wounding him.

Alkhel died in a Raqqa hospital after moving there from Ain Issa, where his condition appeared to have stabilized.

The United States condemned the death of a Syrian child near Ain Issa on October 17 and urged all parties to “protect civilians.”

“This tragic incident demonstrates the continued risk posed by escalation in the area by any party,” the US Embassy said in a statement.

According to Eubank, the situation has not changed much from when he was in northeast Syria in February and March. “There are bombings once [every] two or three weeks, and also Turkish shelling Ain al Issa and the area outside of Tal Tamr. What is different to me, is the drone strike in Derik.”

“I think the US should make it clear to all invaders of northeast Syria from Tal Abyad to Ras al-Ain (Serekaniye) to immediately leave within 24 hours or the US will push them out to allow people to go home.”

“We told the Kurds we would guarantee their safety if they pulled out, but we betrayed them. This is our moral responsibility.”

He added it was not the first child that died in the Ain al-Issa area due to shelling by Turkish-backed groups or the Turkish army. “This is the 11th child killed in this area alone. Also recently one civilian got killed by an AK from one of the FSA checkpoints.”

“Not [only] do the FSA and Turks kill people from the zone they occupied, their presence also makes over 200,000 people permanently homeless” and “live in very bad conditions.”

Editing by Khrush Najari