Turkish warplanes have killed at least 36 pro-Syrian government forces in their airstrikes on Syria’s northwestern Kurdish region of Afrin, a monitoring group affiliated to Syria’s foreign-based opposition groups says.
The Saturday attack was the third assault by Turkish jets against pro-government forces in Afrin over the past two days, the so-called Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) said.
The pro-Syrian government forces entered Afrin last week to repel a Turkish offensive in Afrin against the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) militant group.
This is the first time that Syrian government forces are deployed in the region since 2012 when the YPG held the area under its control.
‘Turkey strikes also claiming civilian lives’
Meanwhile, Syria’s official news agency SANA reported that Turkish tanks shelled al-Hujaila village in Afrin on Friday night, killing eight civilians and injuring 12 others, mostly women and children. The Turkish army and its allied anti-Syrian government militants also targeted the villages of Sharran and Jandaris in Afrin, causing damage to residential units and public infrastructure.
The Syrian government has already condemned the “brutal Turkish aggression” against Afrin, rejecting Ankara’s claim about having informed Damascus of the operation.
Turkey has been waging “Operation Olive Branch” against Syria’s Afrin region since January 20 in a bid to eliminate the YPG, which forms the backbone of the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which is backed by the US. The Turkish government views the YPG as a terror organization and the Syrian branch of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). The latter has been fighting for an autonomous region inside Turkey since 1984