A Turkish-backed Syrian fighter tears down a picture of Abdullah Ocalan in the Hallubi area, north of Afrin, on Thursday. Photo: Nazeer al-Khatib/AFP
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Turkish forces and their Syrian proxies have taken control of the dam that is the major water source for Afrin and claim to have reached the border of the city, state media reported.
Taking control of three villages on Friday morning, Turkish forces and allied Syrian militias have crossed the border of the largest urban centre in the Kurdish enclave, Anadolu Agency reported.
Separately, Anadolu reported Turkish forces are also in control of a portion of Maydanki dam, also called 17 Nisan, located 12 kilometres north of Afrin city. The YPG remain in control of villages to the west of the dam.
A day earlier, Turkish forces had reportedly cut off power at the dam that provides water for the majority of Afrin’s olive and fruit orchards, as well as drinking water and hydroelectricity.
Interruptions in the water and electricity supplies in the Kurdish canton have sparked concern of a rapidly deteriorating humanitarian situation, especially as the conflict escalates in the area of Afrin city.
UK-based conflict monitor Syrian Observatory for Human Rights has called on the United Nations to open a humanitarian corridor
to allow the civilian population to flee.
The UN has previously estimated the population of Afrin to be around 323,000.
Many people have been displaced
within the region in Syria’s northwestern corner. They have moved from the outer regions towards the centre, blaming Turkish bombardments and lack of basic necessities for pushing them out of their homes.
Media linked to the Kurdish YPG forces reported heavy clashes and Turkish airstrikes on multiple fronts on Friday morning, killing several civilians.
The Observatory reported 199 civilian deaths in Afrin as of Thursday.
Turkish officials have denied the deaths of civilians in its offensive that began on January 20.