Turkish Airstrikes, Artillery 'Kill At Least 35 Civilians in Syria'
TEHRAN (Tasnim) – Turkish airstrikes and artillery attacks in Syria have killed at least 35 civilians and wounded dozens more on the fifth day of Turkey’s cross-border campaign which Ankara claims is against Daesh (ISIL) and Kurdish forces.
Warplanes bombarded northern Syria at dawn on Sunday and artillery pounded what Turkish security sources said were sites held by the Kurdish YPG militia, after the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported fierce overnight fighting.
The UK-based group said at least 20 civilians died in Turkish airstrikes on the village of Jub al-Kousa and 15 were killed in an air raid targeting a farm near the village of al-Amarna, which was captured from Kurdish-allied militia on Sunday.
Turkey entered northern Syria on Wednesday, sending soldiers, tanks and other military hardware in support of its Syrian militants allies and seizing the border town of Jarablus from Daesh .
But most fighting so far has appeared to be with rebels aligned to the Kurdish-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a broad grouping that includes the YPG.
The Turkish government wants to stop Kurdish forces gaining control of an unbroken swathe of Syrian territory on its border, which it fears could embolden the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which has waged a three-decade insurgency in Turkey.
It adds complexity to the Syrian conflict which erupted five years ago with a foreign-backed militancy against the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad, and has since drawn in regional states and world powers.
Any action against Kurdish forces in Syria puts Turkey at odds with the United States, its NATO ally. Washington backs the SDF and YPG, seeing them as the most reliable and effective ally in the alleged fight against Daesh in Syria.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 20 people were killed and 50 wounded in a battle for the village of Jub al-Kousa.
Turkish officials have openly stated that their goal in Syria is as much about ensuring Kurdish forces do not extend territory they already control along Turkey’s border, as it is about driving Daesh from its strongholds.
Turkish security sources said warplanes and artillery had hit Kurdish YPG militia sites near Manbij, a city south of Jarablus that had been captured by Kurdish-aligned SDF this month in a US-backed operation.
The YPG says its forces have withdrawn from the area and their presence could not be used as a pretext for an attack.
A Reuters witness in Karkamiş, on the Turkish side of the border, heard jets and artillery bomb Syrian targets. The Observatory said Turkish jets hit sites north of Manbij.