Civilian convoy hit in Afrin after Turkey says no civilians targeted

by Wladimir van Wilgenburg    


QAMISHLI, Syria – A civilian convoy heading to Afrin was hit on Thursday evening by Turkish shelling, Kurdish officials say.

Turkey’s Deputy Prime Minister Bekir BozdaÄŸ, told the government-funded news agency Anadolu that the Turkish army and its affiliated Islamist rebels did not kill any civilians. “To date, no civilians have died or even been hurt in Turkish Armed Forces operations," he said.

However, on Thursday evening, a civilian convoy consisting of people from Canton Jazira, Kobane, Manbij, Tabqa and Raqqa which was on the way to Afrin was hit by Turkish artillery.

“A group that came from Shingal, Kobani, Manbij, they are all civilians, 1,200 civilians came at the border of Afrin, and immediately hit them from Azaz, and according to my information they were 8 injured, and there was a vehicle burned,” Cemil Sulaiman, a Kurdish official in Afrin told The Region.

“Until now the centre of Afrin continues to be bombed with rockets and air strikes, and civilians are hiding under the ground, Erdogan is the number one dictator,” he said.

The news was confirmed by the media centre of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

“The Turkish invasion army and its terrorist allies continue to target the civilians directly, indifferent to all of the norms and human values,” the SDF said.

“This convoy of women, old-aged and activists were exposed to a direct aerial and artillery bombardment by the Turkish invasion army and its terrorist factions, resulting in many martyrs and wounded. The wounded civilians were moved to the hospitals in Afrin enclave for treatment,” the SDF said.

Moreover, the SDF said that the Turkish army continued shelling Afrin city, “in order to create a state of panic within the civilians and to force the people to mass exodus, where the indiscriminate shells land on Afrin’s neighborhoods in a scene that reflects the hatred, terrorism of this army,” the SDF concluded in its statement.

Furthermore, Kurdish journalists and activists spread a video on Thursday showing a man being executed by rebels. Kurdish activists said the rebels stole the tractor which shows a license plate from Afrin in the video.

However, officials and civilians from Afrin couldn’t verify in which village of Afrin the video was taken or who the victim was.

Kurdish officials have called on the international community to stop the attacks. US military officials have called on all parties to focus their fight on ISIS.

“As we’ve said, this is a complex battle space. And it's why we've said that we need all parties to address the common threat, which is ISIS. The fight is not over. Anything that is not directed toward the fight against ISIS is a distraction,” Pentagon Chief Spokesperson Dana W. White said.

“And we encourage all parties to focus on that, because there's still work to be done,” she concluded. 

The executive committee of Movement for a Democratic Society (TEV-DEM in Kurdish), in a statement on Thursday called on all people of Kurdistan at home and abroad to condemn the shameful silence of the international community.

TEV-DEM condemned the international community for ignoring the "crimes committed daily against the people of Afrin and the Turkish aggression against the convoys who came to support the resistance in Afrin, with clear Russian complicity."