nsucurrent.com March 17, 2018

Turkey unleashes deadly strikes against Syrian pro-government forces

05 March 2018, 01:08 | Colleen Roy

Russian and Syrian soldiers are seen outside Eastern Ghouta in Damascus Syria

Russian and Syrian soldiers are seen outside Eastern Ghouta in Damascus Syria

Turkish warplanes struck pro-Syrian government forces in the northwestern Afrin region of Syria on Saturday, killing at least 36 of them, as Turkey's assault in the Kurdish region gathered pace, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

Turkey views the YPG as an extension of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which is deemed a terrorist group by the U.S., the European Union and Turkey.

A Turkish-backed Free Syrian Army fighter is seen in Afrin, Syria on March 2, 2018.

Afrin has been a major stronghold for the YPG since July 2012, when the Syrian government left the city to the group without a fight.

The air strike followed one of the bloodiest days for Turkish troops since they began the offensive in January.

Turkish troops and allied Syrian fighters have been attacking Afrin from the north, west and east, and have formed a crescent around the district.

Five "heroic comrades fell as martyrs and seven were wounded", an initial statement from Turkey's military said.

Later on Sunday, six more villages and a mountain were liberated.

In a statement, the Turkish General Staff said Ramadiyah and Hamelika villages of Jinderes district - located southwest of Afrin - Ali Bazan, Qariqin, and Shamanli villages of Sharan district - located northeast of Afrin - and Badinli village of Rajo district were freed on Saturday.

Thousands of civilians have fled their homes since the start of the operation, either to the town of Afrin or to nearby government-controlled areas.

Mohammed Faraj, a commander of pro-Syrian government forces in Afrin, accused Turkey of not "complying with the truce ... by shelling villages and civilians indiscriminately". Footage posted online by RT's Ruptly agency showed the demonstrators waving Kurdish flags and Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) flags, with others holding colored smoke grenades.

The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces alliance said the Turkish raids targeted pro-government positions, but gave no death toll.

Last month, Amnesty International said indiscriminate shelling had killed scores of civilians in Afrin.

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