Kurdish Civilians killed in Afrin after Turkish air strikes

Turkish troops taking position near Afrin. Turkish troops taking position near Afrin. Ilyas Akengin/AFP

29 January 2018
Many civilians have been declared dead after massive Turkish air strikes on a Kurdish-held enclave near the Syrian border in the small town of Afrin.

The assault, which began on 20 January, aimed to confront the Syrian Kurdish militia, namely the People’s Defence Units (YPG). Considered terrorists by the Turkish government, the Syrian extension of the Kurdish fighting group suffered heavy bombing causing significant damages in the whole area. Ankara asserted YPG is an affiliation of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

The military operations initiated the attack with heavy shelling and then were followed by raids of soldiers. Ankara said the bombing was only targeting the YPG positions, but UN agencies declared they had to suspend their activities in the region.

The level of dangerousness increases every day and makes humanitarian assistance impractical. Since the beginning of the operation on 20 January, an estimated 51 Syrian civilians, including many children, have been killed. Many soldiers lost their life on both sides during the operations, with many more wounded. Nonetheless, Turkish military alleged the numbers of civilian deaths is irrelevant since YPG fighters would have forcibly recruited Kurdish civilians, including young teenagers.
As a result, international volunteers who had already joined the battle against the Islamic State (ISIS) answered the call and mobilized to defend Afrin. Although Ankara seized control over strategic positions, the fight is not over. The region weakened by the war against ISIS is now facing the threat of a new deadly conflict.

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