The SDF-controlled areas are witnessing a series of explosions caused by an escalated intensive shelling by the Turkish Forces and the rebel factions backed by them on SDF-controlled areas in the northern countryside of Aleppo and Afrin countryside in the northwestern countryside of Aleppo. The SOHR learned that this escalated shelling coincide with violent clashes between the SDF on one hand and the Turkish-backed factions on the other in areas in the vicinity of Ein Daqneh village, located east of Menagh Military Airport and areas in the vicinity of Mar’anaz, north of the Airport in an attempt by the factions to take a step ahead of the Syria Democratic Forces. Clashes coincide with an exchange of intensive shelling between both parties. Casualties were reported as a result of the shelling and clashes.
These clashes follow preparations by the Turkish Forces, during the past few days, in cooperation with the rebel and Islamic factions operating in Aleppo Countryside, for a military act that aims at taking control of the area extending from Mare’ to Deir Jamal in order to enable tens of thousands of the displaced to return to their villages in the northern countryside of Aleppo. Therefore, Afrin area, its surroundings, and the SDF-controlled areas in the northern countryside of Aleppo have been witnessing during the past few days repeated bombardments by the Turkish Forces and the rebel and Islamic factions. The bombardments were accompanied by an exchange of targeting between the factions and the SDF with shells and heavy machine-guns, amid the tensions persisting in the area since the 20th of June 2017 near the Syrian-Turkish border following the entry of reinforcements of the Turkish Forces to the southern countryside of Izaz. The shelling during the last few days caused the death of 6 civilians and the injury of others, some of whom sustained serious injuries. It should be noted that the SOHR documented the death of at least 53 of the fighters of the rebel and Islamic factions in an attack they launched on the 27th of April 2016 on the areas of Al-Bilona and Ein Daqneh in the northern countryside of Aleppo in an attempt by the factions to regain control over those areas that were controlled by the SDF. The SOHR then received a copy of a video showing 50 dead bodies placed on an SDF tank carrier touring the streets of Afrin city among crowds of hundreds of people. These clashes also left 11 SDF fighters dead and other were injured.
It is worth mentioning that the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) condemned the fact that its fighters were roaming the streets of Afrin with the dead bodies of fighters of the factions who were killed in Ein Daqneh and Al-Bilona. The SOHR then received a copy of a statement issued by the YPG Command regarding this incident. The statement read as follows “Some of our members who lost some of their fellow brothers and relatives in Al-Sheikh Maksoud neighborhood, unwittingly transported yesterday, the 28th of April 2016, the bodies of those who died in clashes in Ein Daqneh and Arfad town across the main street in Afrin using a truck. We, the YPG General Command in Afrin, affirm that this action is an individual act and does not comply with the humanitarian message we are striving to spread. Neither does such an act comply with our moral and revolutionary values. We reiterate that the responsible will be held accountable and that we remain committed to promote safety and peace across the area and that we won’t allow such acts to occur again.”