A Turkish army tank drives into Jarablus on Thursday. Photo: AFP
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region—Kurdish and Turkish forces have reportedly clashed in several locations in northern Syria and Rojava and there are reports of civilian casualties from Turkish shelling and airstrikes.
The Kurdish Peoples Protection Units (YPG) reported on Twitter Saturday morning that civilians had been killed and injured in Turkish airstrikes and shelling south of Jarablus.
The Jarablus Military Council, formed by the YPG-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) confirmed the airstrikes in a statement, calling it “a dangerous escalation that threatens the fate of the region.”
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that YPG and Turkish forces had clashed both in Afrin, the western-most canton of the Kurdish Rojava in northern Syria, and north of Hasakah, close to Syria’s border with Iraq.
The Observatory on Saturday morning said there was “an exchange of gunfire between YPG and the Turkish forces” in the countryside north of Hasakah, in the triangle of land between the Turkish and Iraqi borders. It is unclear if Turkish forces were on Syrian territory or had fired across the border.
On Friday, the Observatory reported that Turkish forces used heavy machinegun fire in the Afrin countryside, an area under control of the YPG.
They did not report any casualties in either incident.
Turkey crossed into Syria on Wednesday as part of an offensive with the Free Syrian Army to rout Islamic State (ISIS) militants from the town of Jarablus and eliminate “terrorists” on its border, referring to both ISIS and the YPG. Turkish border towns have been repeatedly shelled by ISIS in northern Syria.
Both Syria and Iran consider the move a violation of Syrian sovereignty and have asked Turkey to respect international principles and laws.
Colonel Ahmad Osman, a commander of the Sultan Murad, one of the Syrian rebel groups who participated in the Jarablus operation, told Reuters on Friday that their forces were moving west from Jarablus toward Marea, about 70 kilometres away.
“Liberating these villages between Jarablus and Marea requires weeks and perhaps months, according to the nature of the battles,” Osman said.
He added that they did not want to fight the Kurdish forces but would do so if necessary.