Turkey: Rocket attacks from Syrian enclave kill 2

AP News
Posted: Feb 02, 2018 12:10 PM
Turkey: Rocket attacks from Syrian enclave kill 2

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — A barrage of rockets fired at two Turkish border villages from a Kurdish enclave in Syria killed two people and wounded 19 others Friday, Turkish officials said, as fighting raged on the Syrian side of the border, officials and opposition activists said.

The Hatay provincial governor's office issued a statement saying at least six rockets targeted the town of Reyhanli damaging a home, a workplace and a road close to the marketplace. Eighteen people were wounded, including two who later died in a hospital.

Three more rockets hit the town of Kilis, northeast of Reyhanli, where at least three people were wounded, said Gov. Mehmet Tekinarslan.

Turkey launched a cross-border offensive into Afrin on Jan. 20 to rout the Syrian Kurdish militia group it says is linked to insurgents fighting inside Turkey.

Friday's deaths raised to six the death toll from rocket attacks on the two towns since then. The victims include a teenage girl and two Syrian refugees.

On the Syrian side of the border, intense fighting broke out near Afrin as Turkish troops and Turkey-backed opposition fighter tried to advance further in the Kurdish enclave.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the fighting is concentrated in the village of Bilbleh, adding that Turkish warplanes are conducting airstrikes in the region. The group also reported that Kurdish fighters struck a vehicle inflicting casualties among Turkey-backed fighters.

The Observatory said that since the offensive against Afrin began, Turkish troops and their allies have captured 15 villages and 68 civilians, including 21 children, have been killed since.

Mustafa Bali, spokesman for the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, said Turkish troops also shelled the town of Jandrees and nearby areas.

To the east, Syrian troops and their allies captured the village of Tel Alloush, bringing them closer to the rebel stronghold of Saraqeb, according to the Observatory and the government-controlled Syrian Central Military Media.

The SCMM said Syrian troops and their allies are now 13 kilometers (8 miles) from a rebel-held part of the highway that links the capital Damascus with the northern city of Aleppo, the country's largest and once commercial center. The highway passes through Saraqeb.

The local White Helmets rescuers and the Observatory said government shelling hit a vehicle carrying civilians fleeing the violence killing seven of them. They said the attack happened in a village in Aleppo province.

Syrian government forces and their allies have been on the offensive in the country's northwest for weeks in an attempt to reopen the Damascus-Aleppo highway that has been closed since 2012, a year after the country's conflict began.