Kurdish city on alert following Qaeda-led attacks northwest Syria

Kurdish female fighters of the YPJ during a military parade in Afrin, northern Aleppo. Photo: ARA News

ARA News 

AFRIN – The Kurdish security police of the Asayish has instructed civilians to avoid public places after Islamist rebels bombed the city of Afrin in Syria’s northern Aleppo province with Grad rockets. 

The Asayish blamed the Nusra Front [Syria’s al-Qaeda branch] and Ahrar as-Sham for the attacks.

The Asayish in a public statement said civilians should hide in shelters if they hear the sound of missiles, and to not gather in public places and streets, and to keep children in the houses and report any places hit by the rockets. 

Abdo Ibrahim, the head of defence in Afrin [in Kurdish Efrîn] said in a public statement that the attacks are not new. “The terrorist battalions try to drag us to breach the second truce,” Ibrahim said.

“We remain committed to any international resolution that would put an end to the bloodshed in Syria,” he said, suggesting that the SDF forces are the only solution to end the civil war.

Ibrahim accused the al-Qaeda-affiliated Nusra Front of preventing the exchange of rebel bodies killed by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), after an agreement between the elders of Azaz and the SDF forces to exchange more than 66 bodies of fighters that were killed in Ayn Daqnah failed for three captives after objection of Nusra. 

“This is the biggest proof that Azaz is governed by the Nusra Front and it’s affiliates,” the Kurdish official said.

Afrin Under Fire  

Syrian Islamist rebels on Saturday bombed the Kurdish city of Afrin in northwestern Syria with a number of Grad rockets, hitting residential buildings and causing casualties among civilians, military sources and rights activists reported.

Islamist rebel factions stationed in Azaz city in the northern countryside of Aleppo province hit Afrin city with at least five Grad rockets on Saturday evening.

“The bombardment caused mass destruction in residential buildings in central Afrin, where at least three Kurdish civilians were killed and a dozen more injured,” rights activist Salim Efrini told ARA News in Afrin. 

The source added that local rescue teams have been looking for victims under the rubble until Saturday midnight.

“Some civilians are most likely stranded under the ruins of the destroyed buildings. Volunteers of the rescue teams are still searching, and the number of casualties could increase in the coming hours,” Efrini reported. 

The city of Afrin is under the control of the Kurdish forces of the People’s Protection Units (YPG)–that are in conflict with Islamist factions in northern Syria, including ISIS and al-Qaeda. 

Speaking to ARA News, Kurdish politician and spokesman of the Syrian Democratic Union in Afrin Salam Hussein said: “Those radical Islamists are punishing civilians after failing to confront the YPG forces at the battlefront.”

Last week, Islamist factions, including Syria’s al-Qaeda branch of Nusra Front and Ahrar al-Sham, bombed the Jinderis district in Afrin suburbs, killing and wounding a number of civilians, according to local sources.  

Reporting by: Siman Jiwan and Wladimir van Wilgenburg

Source: ARA News


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