Clinic in Syria's Tal Rifaat 'badly damaged' by Turkish drone strike
ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – A Turkish suicide drone targeted a gynecologist's clinic in the city of Tal Rifaat in Syria's Aleppo province on Wednesday morning, the Syria-based Rojava Information Centre (RIC) reported.
"This is the 40th drone attack on NES (Northeast Syria) in 2022, and the 7th on Tel Rifaat (Tal Rifaat) in that time frame," the RIC said.
"No casualties were reported, but the clinic was badly damaged."
Tal Rifaat hosts a large Kurdish-majority population of civilians displaced from Afrin, a northwestern Syrian Kurdish region Turkey and its proxy Syrian militants invaded and occupied in 2018.
Both the Syrian government and Kurdish forces are present in Tal Rifaat.
Iranian-backed armed groups and Syrian government forces reportedly increased their presence in northern Aleppo in response to Turkish threats to launch another cross-border operation.
Read More: Syrian government and Iran-backed groups send reinforcements to northern Aleppo following Turkish threats: SOHR
Since April, the Turkish army and Turkish-backed forces intensified their shelling and drone strikes on areas held by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in both northern Aleppo and northeast Syria.
In May, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan threatened to launch a new operation.
According to Turkish pro-government media, Tal Rifaat could be a potential target of a new Turkish operation. The city was captured from rebel groups by the Syrian People's Protection Units (YPG) in 2016.
If Turkey captured Tal Rifaat, Kurdish forces would find targeting Turkish-backed rebels occupying Afrin more difficult.
Some rebel groups have pushed Turkey to take Tal Rifaat during the Turkish operation in Afrin. However, Turkey limited its operation to the Kurdish region of Afrin only.
Moreover, due to the nearby Shiite-majority towns of Nubul and Zahra in northern Aleppo that were repeatedly besieged by rebels in the past, it is unlikely that Iran-backed armed groups would be happy with Turkey and its militia proxies seizing Tal Rifaat.