Turkish shelling of the Afrin countryside. Photo: YPG press office video
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Turkey shelled Afrin city for the first time since it began bringing in reinforcements around the Kurdish canton in northwest Syria a month ago, according to a conflict monitor.
Turkish artillery targeted the al-Ashrafyyeh area of Afrin city as well as villages in the countryside around the city, causing several injuries, the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported on Saturday.
“This is considered the first targeting of the city since the start of Turkish preparations” on June 20 in the northern Aleppo countryside, the Observatory stated.
The Kurdish force YPG released a statement on Sunday detailing near daily attacks on their forces and locations in Afrin by Turkey over the past week. The YPG accused Turkey and local armed militias the Turkish army is backing of increasing their attacks on the Kurdish region.
Several people have been injured and many homes and properties have been damaged in fires sparked by the shelling, both the YPG and Observatory noted. The YPG added that Turkish reconnaissance aircraft are flying over their areas.
Last month, Turkey began to build up forces around the Afrin region while Deputy Prime Minister Veysi Kaynak in Ankara justified the deployments saying “Afrin has become a threat to the security of Turkey.”
Ankara believes the YPG is an extension of the PKK, a banned organization in Turkey, and Kaynak alleged “terrorists” had infiltrated Turkey from Afrin, providing weapons to the PKK. “That is why Afrin must be cleared from terrorists,” he said.
The YPG has denied any organic links with the PKK.