Five killed, including baby, following suspected Kurdish shelling of Turkish border towns

Five killed, including baby, following suspected Kurdish shelling of Turkish border towns
Turkey's military operation in northern Syria began on Wednesday following the withdrawal of US troops from the region.
2 min read
10 October, 2019
Smoke rises from the Syiran town of Tal Abyad. [Getty]
Suspected Syrian-Kurdish shelling of two Turkish border towns on Thursday killed five people - including a baby - and injured dozens more, a day after Ankara launched a military offensive inside Syria.

"The first martyr of Operation Peace Spring was a nine-month-old Syrian baby, Mohammad Omar, and Cihan Gunes, a civil servant working for the tax office in Akcakale," the local governor's office said.

Turkish officials said the baby killed in the shelling was Syrian.

Three people were injured following explosions in the Turkish city of Akcakale, when shells hit a government building.

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Turkish media reported injuries in Akcakale and Ceylanpinar, which lie just across the border from the Syrian towns of Tal Abyad and Ras al-Ain.

The two towns have been the focus of Turkey's military offensive against the Kurdish-dominated Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

Turkey President Erdogan said his forces had killed 109 "militants" since its offensive began.

The campaign has displaced around 60,000 people in northern Syria, AFP reported, with aid groups fearing a new humanitarian crisis unfolding in Syria.

Dubbed Operation Spring of Peace, Ankara's offensive in northern Syria began Thursday with the aim of creating a 150km long and 25km deep "safe zone" on the other side of the Turkish border, currently occupied by the SDF.

This would provide Turkey with a buffer zone and allow for the repatriation of the country's 3 million Syrian refugees, Ankara claims.

Turkish bombing has hit towns in northern Syria, while a ground offensive by Ankara's proxy forces have so far seen a number of Syrian border villages captured.

Dozens of aid workers have been told by their employers to leave the area due to the dangers of the fighting, The Guardian reported, many of whom crossed the border into Turkey reluctantly. 

The SDF have warned of an "imminent catastrophe", while the EU has urged restraint.

Amnesty International also cautioned against indiscriminate attacks that could result in civilian casualties.

"Both Turkish and Kurdish forces have a track record of carrying out indiscriminate attacks in Syria that have killed scores of civilians," said Amnesty's Middle East research director Lynn Maalouf to The Guardian. "This must not be allowed to happen again."

She also said that the international community must take measures to ensure that Turkey and Kurdish forces should respect international humanitarian law by the Turkish authorities to avoid another humanitarian catastrophe in northern Syria.