A long-announced Turkish offensive on Kobane has left at least 11 dead, including civilians and children, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. The balance exceeds the previous information disclosed by the Kurdish agency ANHA and the newspaper Al Watan, which numbered four to five victims, including at least one minor.
Turkish troops and Kurdistan fighters exchanged fire on Tuesday in the border town, which is located in northern Syria. The conflict intensified and spread to Sanliurfa province, on the Turkish side of the border some 25 kilometers west of Kobane. One Turkish soldier was killed and four wounded in a mortar attack on a military border post, the Turkish Defense Ministry said.
The artillery salvos in Kobane impacted within and around the city, starting overnight and intensifying throughout the day, according to residents and the semi-autonomous local administration that governs the city.. The administration said in an online statement that at least one child was killed in the shelling and several other people were injured. Ankara sees the semi-autonomous system, which is led by Kurdish factions and rules swathes of northern and eastern Syria, as a national security threat on its border.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan promised a new incursion to create a 30-kilometer safe zone in northern Syria.Within this safe zone lies Kobane along with other cities held by the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces.
Following the mortar attack in the Sanliurfa region, Turkish forces fired retaliatory fire at targets in the region, Ankara’s Defense Ministry said in a statement.. “According to initial information in the region, 13 terrorists were neutralized. Operations in the region continue,” he said. “Neutralized” usually means killed, but could also mean wounded or captured.
A Turkish official commented that the Kurdish YPG militia, a key force within the SDF, had carried out the mortar attack. Ankara considers the YPG a terrorist group.
Kobane has been relatively quiet since US-backed Kurdish fighters drove Islamic State militants out of the city in 2015. But shelling and drone attacks have recently increased in many border towns. At least three Kurdish commanders were killed last month in attacks that the SDF blamed on Ankara.
Dilvinmerchant and married mother of a son, said chaos erupted in Kobane as shelling intensified on Tuesday. “People started running everywhere, cars everywhere, people asking for their friends and family. Then the rumbling started to increase, the sounds were everywhere,” he told Reuters by telephone from Kobane.
“There was so much screaming. So afraid. Now everyone is locked up in their houses.” said Dilvin, who preferred to identify himself by name only for security reasons.
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