Turkish-led fire near hospital in Syria’s Afrin, one dead: monitor

Smoke is seen billowing from the northern Syrian Kurdish town of Afrin on January 31, 2018
AFP

Beirut (AFP) – Turkish-led bombardment left at least one person dead and several others wounded near the main hospital in the Syrian town of Afrin on Tuesday, a monitor and military force said. 

The border areas in Syria’s northwest region of Afrin have been battered by air strikes, artillery and rocket fire since Ankara and allied Syrian rebels began their assault on the district three weeks ago.

Strikes on the central town of Afrin are rarer, but a barrage of artillery and rockets struck it on Tuesday morning, AFP’s correspondents there said.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a British-based war monitor, said it left at least one person dead. 

“At least one person was killed and four others wounded when Turkish forces and allied factions fired artillery and rockets on Afrin city, including near the entrance of the hospital,” said the Observatory.

The broader Afrin region is held by the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), which has received US backing but is considered by Ankara to be a “terror group”. 

YPG spokesman Birusk Hasakeh confirmed to AFP that one person had been killed in bombardment near the hospital.

The Afrin hospital is the main medical facility in the area and has been overwhelmed by civilians seeking treatment there.

Turkey and allied Syrian factions launched their offensive on January 20, saying they aimed to clear the YPG from the border area and other towns further east.

Ankara has repeatedly insisted it is taking all the necessary precautions to avoid harming civilians and says there have been no civilian casualties to date.

The Observatory, however, has said more than 70 civilians have been killed in the operation so far.

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