(Web Desk) – Two separate Turkish attacks have claimed the lives of at least 22 civilians in Syria’s northwestern town of Afrin as Ankara presses ahead with its operation against US-backed Kurdish militants there.
According to Syria’s official SANA news agency, 16 civilians, among them children lost their lives after a Turkish bombing raid struck a hospital in the Kurdish-controlled enclave of Afrin on Friday.
The Kurdish Red Crescent medical service, which supports the hospital, confirmed the hospital was hit in the deadly raid.
The Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) and the so-called Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitor said a Turkish air strike hit Afrin town’s main hospital on Friday night, killing 16 people.
However, the Turkish military in a posting on Twitter denied on Saturday that it had struck the hospital, adding that it was carrying out the campaign in a way that it would not hurt civilians.
Separately, a SANA reporter said that six civilians were killed and several others injured as Turkish-backed militants shelled the violence-hit region.
According to SOHR, over 280 civilians have been killed since the Turkey-led offensive against the US-backed Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) in the Afrin region began on January 20.
Meanwhile, Hevi Mustafa, a top member of the civil authority governing the Afrin region said that more than 150,000 people have been displaced in the last few days from Afrin town.
The local official noted that people were fleeing the main town to other Kurdish-held parts of the region and to government territory.
Meanwhile, Lebanon’s al-Manar channel cited Syrian media as saying on Saturday that the Turkish aggression has caused hunger, sickness and agony for over 1 million civilians in the affected areas.
Turkey launched the so-called Operation Olive Branch in Afrin early this year in a bid to eliminate the YPG, which Ankara views as a terror organization and the Syrian branch of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
The YPG forms the backbone of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a US-backed anti-Damascus militant group.
Ankara began the campaign after the US said it would work with the Kurdish militants to set up a 30,000-strong force near the Turkish border..
The Syrian government has already condemned the Turkish offensive against Afrin as an act of aggression.