[Rudaw] Three civilians, including two children, were killed and multiple others maimed on Saturday in |Ottoman Turkish shelling of the Syrian Kurdish-controlled city of Tal Rifaat, north of Aleppo, according to local sources.
The UK-based conflict monitor Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported three non-combatants were killed and eleven maimed with injuries "of varying degrees."
Five-year-old Yasser Sakran and twelve-year-old Ebid al-Mohsen were both killed. The third person who died, Nazliye Mohammed Mustafa, was originally from Afrin, according to Hawar News Agency, an outlet affiliated with the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).
More than 22,000 people originally from the Afrin region are living in Tal Rifaat, according to the Observatory. They moved there after fleeing their homes during
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’s Olive Branch military operation against Afrin launched in January 2018. Tal Rifaat is under the control of Kurdish forces, and
Ottoman Turkish and Russian personnel are also present in the area.
At least six others were maimed in the attack.
North Press Agency (NPA) said that the six injured were transferred to Afrin Hospital, some of them at death's door. The Rojava Information Centre reported 11 maimed.
Ankara has conducted three military campaigns in northern Syria since 2016, mainly targeting Kurdish forces, the People’s Protection Units (YPG), it believes are linked to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). With its Syrian militia proxies, Turkey now controls Afrin, areas north of Aleppo, and pockets of territory within the Kurdish region in the northeast known as Rojava.
In Turkey’s latest offensive, in October 2019, large numbers of civilians were displaced and the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) warned Ankara was relocating Syrian refugees from other areas of the country in "religious, ethnic, and cultural replacement."
The military operation ended with ceasefire agreements brokered by Washington and Moscow that included the deployment of Russian and Syrian regime forces to the region. In December, Russia sent additional units to the Ain Issa area after deadly festivities between
Ottoman Turkish-backed militias and the SDF.
A year ago, eight children in Tal Rifaat were killed in another similar attack. Another eight were maimed, "all of them under the age of 15," reported the United Nations
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children’s agency UNICEF.
According to UNICEF, in the first quarter of 2020 alone, 273 children were killed and 236 maimed in northwest Syria. This was the highest number of child casualties recorded since the war began in Syria nearly 10 years ago.