Turkish patrol 'runs over', kills Syrian protester amid shaky truce

Turkish patrol 'runs over', kills Syrian protester amid shaky truce
Syrian Kurdish activists named the killed protester as 25-year-old Serxwebun Ali.
3 min read
09 November, 2019
Neither Turkey nor Russia have commented on the protester's death [AFP]
A Syrian protester was killed after a Turkish military vehicle ran him over on Friday as it drove through an angry crowd demonstrating against a joint Turkish-Russian patrol in northeastern Syria, Kurdish forces and a war monitor said.

The man killed on Friday was among a group of residents who had chased and pelted the joint Russian-Turkey convoy with shoes and stones.

He was identified by the activist-founded Rojava Information Centre (RIC) as a 25-year-old named Serxwebun Ali.

Ten people were hospitalised, the RIC and Mustafa Bali, a spokesman for the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) said, after Turkish troops fired tear gas to disperse the demonstrators.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based war monitoring group, said the man was run over in the village of Sarmasakh near the border.

Videos shared on social media on Friday show a group of men running after the Turkish and Russian vehicles as they drove, throwing stones at them. A man is seen trying to mount one of the vehicles and before men can be heard shouting, apparently after the protester is run over.

There was no immediate comment about the incident from the Russian military. The Turkish defence ministry said the joint patrol from Qamishli to Derik had been "completed as planned with due care and attention to the safety of our personnel and the public against the provocateurs."

It added that the patrols were being supported by drones.

Fragile agreement

The fatal incident reflects the increasingly complicated political geography in northeastern Syria in the wake of US President Donald Trump's decision to pull troops away from the border and redeploy them further south, prompting a long-anticipated Turkish offensive against the SDF.

While the SDF, formerly allied with the US, has constituted the main fighting force in Syria against the Islamic State group, Ankara considers the group's main constituent party, the People's Protection Units (YPG), a terrorist organisation.

Turkey's Operation "Peace Spring" had hoped to push the SDF out of areas neighbouring Turkey, the offensive proved controversial among the international community and prompted Russian- and US-brokered agreements that have vastly altered the territorial map of northeastern Syria.

Despite ceasefire agreements, fighting continues on the edges of areas controlled by Turkey and its Syrian proxies.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan complained earlier this week that Syrian Kurdish fighters were still present in areas along the border and claimed that his troops were being attacks by some from areas they had retreated to.

Syrian Kurdish officials meanwhile allege that Turkey is seeking to expand the area it controls, extending its offensive east and south of Ras al-Ayn, the easternmost point of the 120 kilometers-long (75 miles) area it now controls.

Turkey's incursion has prompted protest from some residents of the area, with Turkish-Russian patrols having been repeatedly subject to demonstrations and stone-throwing.

At least 92 civilians have been killed so far amid the offensive, the United Nations said on Friday, and nearly 200,000 have been displaced.

The International Committee of the Red Cross added that it was deeply concerned for civilians after a key water pumping station was shut down due to the fighting.

The Allouk station, which serves more than 400,000 people in and around the city of Hassakeh, has not been functioning since the end of October.

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