The PKK terrorist group’s Syrian wing, the YPG, has killed two civilians, including one child, and injured another 10 in a rocket attack on northern Syria’s Afrin province on Thursday.
“On sad & cruel days like today, no words describe the horrific tragedies civilians face, and the countless questions the world has to answer. How many more will die? What did they do to deserve this fate?” the White Helmets Syrian civil defense group wrote on Twitter.
Terrorists fired seven rockets at central Afrin, according to initial reports. The rockets also caused property damage when several houses were struck.
The northwestern Afrin province was rid of terrorist elements thanks to Turkey's Operation Euphrates Shield, but the YPG/PKK maintains its occupation in the Tal Rifaat district although it was supposed to evacuate in line with a deal between Turkey and Russia on Oct. 22, 2019. The terrorist group continues to target central Afrin.
Backed by the Syrian National Army, Turkey conducted Operation Olive Branch on Jan. 20, 2018, to rescue Afrin from the YPG/PKK terrorist group and cleared the district of terror elements on March 18.
Since 2016, Turkey has launched a trio of successful anti-terror operations across its border in northern Syria to prevent the formation of a terror corridor and to enable the peaceful settlement of residents: Euphrates Shield in 2016, Olive Branch in 2018 and Peace Spring in 2019.
Ankara considers the YPG, which was deployed by the U.S.-led anti-Daesh coalition within the pretext of fighting the terrorist group on the ground, a grave national security threat.
Meanwhile, seven more bodies were discovered in the mass grave found in Afrin, bringing to 68 the number of victims exhumed from an empty piece of land occupied by YPG/PKK terrorists before the 2018 liberation, authorities said Thursday.
"When these places were under the control of the PKK terrorists, there were rumors of the disappearance and execution of those who opposed them," Mohammed Seyh Rashid, head of Afrin Local Council told reporters at the scene. "Most likely, there may be a mass grave of the disappeared and the people standing in front of them in this cemetery."
He said work will continue until the identities of the deceased are determined.
Earlier Thursday, Hatay Governor Rahmi Doğan confirmed 26 more bodies were discovered and that the number of bodies removed from the mass grave could rise.
"This is a crime against humanity," Rahmi Doğan said. "I think the number of bodies recovered will rise," he added, after the Turkish Defense Ministry initially put the number at 35 on Wednesday.
Images on Turkish television showed officials in hazmat suits surrounded by what appeared to be bodies in bags.
Doğan said Turkish authorities believe the dead were civilians executed by the YPG days before Turkey launched Operation Olive Branch in 2018.
Local people living in areas held by the YPG have long suffered from its atrocities, as the terrorist group has a notorious record of human rights abuses in Syria, ranging from kidnappings, recruitment of child soldiers, torture, ethnic cleansing and forced displacement.
A recent United Nations report stated in May that the YPG has been recruiting children to fight among its ranks and that the organization has enlisted at least 400 children in the past two years.
International law prohibits nonstate armed groups from recruiting anyone under 18, and enlisting children under 15 is considered a war crime.
The YPG’s use of child soldiers has been repeatedly documented and criticized by international human rights organizations, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch (HRW).
The U.S. has primarily partnered with the YPG in northeastern Syria in the anti-Daesh fight. On the other hand, Turkey strongly opposed the terrorist group’s presence in northern Syria, which has been a major sticking point in strained Turkey-U.S. relations. Ankara has long objected to the U.S.' support for the YPG, a group that poses a threat to Turkey and terrorizes local people, destroying their homes and forcing them to flee.
Under the pretext of fighting Daesh, the U.S. has provided military training and given truckloads of military support to the YPG, despite its NATO ally’s security concerns. While underlining that a country cannot support one terrorist group to fight another, Turkey conducted its own counterterrorism operations, over the course of which it has managed to remove a significant number of terrorists from the region.
Please click to read our informative text prepared pursuant to the Law on the Protection of Personal Data No. 6698 and to get information about the cookies used on our website in accordance with the relevant legislation.
6698 sayılı Kişisel Verilerin Korunması Kanunu uyarınca hazırlanmış aydınlatma metnimizi okumak ve sitemizde ilgili mevzuata uygun olarak kullanılan çerezlerle ilgili bilgi almak için lütfen tıklayınız.