Seven civilians killed in shelling of Turkish-held Syrian city of Afrin
Seven people were killed, including a woman and a child, and 25 others were injured on Thursday when rockets hit a market and residential area of the city of Afrin in northwestern Syria, which is controlled by Turkish-backed Syrian fighters.
It was not immediately clear who fired the artillery shells but the attack came from an area where Kurdish fighters linked to the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and forces loyal to the regime of President Bashar al-Assad are present.
Ismail Naasan, an official from the Syrian Civil Defence told The New Arab’s Arabic-language service that there were “a number of injured in critical condition”.
He said that the Syrian Civil Defence, known also as the White Helmets, had put out fires after the bombing and taken the injured to hospital. Some of the more seriously wounded were taken to Turkey for treatment.
“The bombing caused a great deal of damage in the city and also targeted a school,” Naasan said.
The shelling came a week after a suicide bomber launched an attack near a military base run by Turkey-backed fighters in Afrin.
Turkey and its proxies have seized control of territory inside Syria over several military operations launched since 2016 against the Islamic State group and the Kurdish YPG militia, which is the main component of the SDF.
In March 2018, they seized Afrin after pushing the Syrian Kurdish forces out.
On Thursday, Kurdish forces marked four years since Turkey launched its push into Afrin.
Many of the city’s Kurdish inhabitants were displaced by the Turkish offensive while refugees from other parts of Syria moved in.
"Recovering Afrin and (securing) the safe return of it's inhabitants... is our main priority," Mazlum Abdi, the head of the SDF, tweeted.
However, an SDF spokesman contacted by The New Arab said he had “no information” about the targeting of civilian areas in Afrin.
The war in Syria has killed over half a million people and spurred the largest conflict-induced displacement since World War II, since it broke out in 2011 with the brutal suppression of peaceful protests by the Assad regime.
Agencies contributed to this report.