In pictures: Fighting devastates Afrin city center
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Photographs are beginning to emerge showing the scale of destruction in downtown Afrin after Operation Olive Branch forces seized the city on Sunday morning.
Images show buildings reduced to rubble and debris filling the streets following bombardment by Turkish forces and their Syrian proxies.
Bodies can be seen lying in the streets covered with blankets, while homes and businesses show signs of looting.
Images surfaced earlier showing fighters making off with belongings left by fleeing families. Footage also shows militants shooting up then pulling down the statue of Kawa the Blacksmith – a famous Kurdish icon associated with Newroz.
The incursion into the northwest Syrian canton, involving Turkish troops and their Syrian proxies, including the Free Syrian Army (FSA), began on January 20.
Ankara claims it launched the operation with the aim of creating a buffer zone along Turkey’s southern border, pushing back the People’s Protection Units (YPG), which Turkey says are affiliated with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), a named terrorist organization. The groups deny the link.
The YPG claimed on Sunday evening that Afrin city has not fallen to Olive Branch forces, insisting its fighters are still resisted advances in districts of the town. They have pledged to launch a guerrilla campaign to push back the “invasion” and halt what they called the “ethnic cleansing” of Afrin.