Rocket attacks in Syria's Afrin kill at least 10 civilians
ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) - The Syria-based Violations Documentation Center (VDC) reported on Saturday that a rocket attack in the Kurdish Afrin area killed at least 10 civilians and wounded 34 others.
Local sources told Kurdistan 24 that about five rockets hit Afrin around 6 p.m. local time, killing one civilian. An hour later, four more rockets hit the city, one of which hit the city's al-Shifaa hospital, killing several civilians.
The Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS) tweeted that two rockets targeted the hospital, “resulting in multiple injuries & casualties, including staff.” The attack also collapsed the facility’s polyclinic department and delivery room.
There have not been any credible claims of responsibility for the incident. The explosives were reportedly fired from northern Aleppo province, where both the Syrian Arab Army and the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) are present.
Turkish-backed groups also reportedly shelled villages near Afrin district’s Sherawa sub-district, resulting in civilian casualties.
The Turkish Governor's Office in Hatay immediately blamed the YPG, according to a report in the pro-Turkish government paper Daily Sabah.
However, Charles Lister, an analyst at the Middle East Institute, claimed in a tweet that pro-Bashar al-Assad regime forces carried out the bombing.
“As many as 19 civilians dead, including 2 female medical staff,” Lister said.
In an online statement, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), in which the YPG is a leading component, denied responsibility for the attack.
“Some media outlets have reported incorrect news about an attack in the city center of Afrin today evening accusing the SDF to be behind the attack,” Farhad Shami, the head of the SDF media center, said.
“We as Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) confirm that we don't have any presence in those areas.”
SDF Commander-in-Chief Mazloum Abdi said that the SDF categorically rejects any involvement in “the tragic attack” in Afrin.
“We are deeply saddened by the loss of innocent life. We condemn the attack without reservation. Targeting hospitals is a violation of international law,” he added.
Turkey-backed factions have controlled Afrin since March 2018 when the Turkish army launched a cross-border offensive to target the YPG, which was then administering the area since 2012. The Turkish-led operation killed scores of civilians and forced thousands of Kurds to flee their homes.
Human rights organizations have accused groups operating in the area of committing war crimes, including intentional ethnic cleansing, kidnapping for ransom, and gender-based violence.
Afrin has been plagued by regular attacks on groups aligned with Turkey and indiscriminate bombings that have also killed civilians. In addition, the area sees frequent infighting between rival factions that also lead to civilian deaths.
Turkey-backed forces have also conducted deadly attacks on Tal Rifaat, a nearby district that houses nearly 170,000 displaced Kurds from Afrin.
Editing by Khrush Najari