Turkish airstrikes kill dozens from pro-Assad forces in northern Syria

Author: Reuters, APSun, 2018-03-04 03:00ID: 1520116522627521600BEIRUT: Turkish warplanes struck pro-Syrian regime 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.
The pro-Syrian regime forces entered Afrin last week in support of the Kurdish YPG militia, the stated target of the operation launched by Turkey and allied Syrian rebel fighters in January.
The Observatory said the airstrike, which hit a camp in Kafr Jina, marked the third time in 48 hours that Turkish warplanes had struck pro-government forces in Afrin.
The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a YPG-led militia alliance, said in a statement that Turkish airstrikes had targeted positions held by the Syrian army’s “popular forces” from 5 a.m. (0300 GMT) until 10 a.m. (0800 GMT).
It did not say where or give a death toll.
Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said his country’s forces had captured the town of Rajo from militants. The Observatory said the Turkish army was in control of about 70 percent of the town, about 25 km northwest of Afrin city.
The SDF statement said a group of Turkish forces and allied Syrian factions had infiltrated Rajo, where it said clashes were continuing between SDF forces and the attackers.
Turkey views the YPG as an extension of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has fought a three-decade insurgency in Turkey and is deemed a terrorist group by the US, the EU and Turkey. The YPG has been an important ally for the United States in the fight against Daesh.
Meanwhile, near the Syrian capital Damascus government forces took almost complete control of the town of Al-Shayfouniya in Eastern Ghouta on Saturday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said, pressing an assault into the last rebel stronghold near the capital.
The spokesman for the Jaish Al-Islam group, writing on Twitter, said government forces had mounted a failed attempt to storm a nearby area, Al-Rayhan, but did not mention Al-Shayfouniya.
A commander in the military alliance fighting in support of President Bashar Assad said fighting was underway in Al-Shayfouniya, without giving further details.
Syrian activists and rescuers said at least six civilians had been killed in the ongoing bombing of Eastern Ghouta despite a Russia-ordered brief daily humanitarian pause.
Syrian State TV reported that two children managed to escape from the region under gunfire from the rebels, who control Eastern Ghouta.
Syrian regime and Russian officials accuse the rebels of firing at a corridor set up for evacuation, preventing civilians from leaving.
The corridor, manned by Russia military police and Syrian troops, has since Tuesday been set to open for five hours daily.
Main category: Middle-EastTags: TurkeySyriaLebanonrelated_nodes: Greece not planning soldier exchange with TurkeyCouple held in Turkey over Daesh links had German passportsTurkey arrests two Greek soldiers ‘on espionage charges’

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