BEIRUT (AFP) – Turkish air raids killed 11 civilians Sunday in the northern Syrian region of Afrin, including eight members of the same family who had fled fighting elsewhere, a war monitor said.
The reported strikes came on the second day of “Operation Olive Branch,” as Turkish tanks and troops rolled into Syria in an offensive against the area held by the Kurdish People s Protection Units (YPG), which Ankara considers a terror group.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the dead, who included five children, were killed in air strikes on the village of Jalbara. It earlier gave a death toll of eight.
Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP that eight of those killed were members of one family who had fled fighting in the northwestern province of Idlib.
Earlier a spokesman for the Kurdish forces that control the Afrin area also reported the raids.
“Eight civilians were killed in missile strikes on a chicken farm where they were living,” said Birusk Hasakeh, a spokesman for the YPG in Afrin, blaming Turkish warplanes.
In pictures sent by Hasakeh to AFP, Kurdish Red Crescent rescuers could be seen retrieving bloodied bodies from a collapsed concrete structure and laying them on orange stretchers.
On Saturday, Hasakeh told AFP that Turkish bombardment had killed 10 people, including seven civilians.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Sunday that claims of civilian casualties from the offensive were untrue.
“As always, the PYD/YPG terrorists continue to deceive the world with nonsense propaganda and baseless lies by showing neutralised terrorists as civilians,” he wrote on Twitter.
He was referring to the Kurdish Democratic Union Party and its armed wing, the YPG, fighting in Syria.
“They use civilians as human shields. Our target is neither our Kurdish brothers nor Syrians. We are only after terrorists.”
And the Turkish army says it is doing everything possible to prevent civilian casualties.
“In the planning and execution of the operation only terrorists and their shelters, positions and weapons are being targeted,” the army has said.