“Euphrates Shield” areas in April | Nearly 15 attacks…ongoing security chaos…escalating protests…Turkish fatalities…airstrikes
Since Turkish forces and their proxy factions captured several areas in Aleppo after a military operation known as “Euphrates Shield”, humanitarian crises have been emerging and worsening gradually, with violations, attacks and explosions occur almost daily. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) has monitored and tracked April’s prominent developments in these areas, which could be summarised in the following main points:
Human casualties: figures and details
In April, SOHR activists have documented the death of eight people in “Euphrates Shield” areas. The fatalities breakdown were as follows:
- A child and a militiaman were killed in a double explosion caused by the explosion of an IED and motorcycle-bomb in a car in Jarabulus city.
- A young man was found dead on a pavement in al-Bab city centre.
- A young man was found dead on an off-road on the outskirts of Qah village in the western countryside of al-Bab.
- A civilian was killed by unknown gunmen, after they failed to kidnap him in Baldaq Kabeer village in Jarabulus countryside.
- A member of Afrin police was shot dead by unknown gunmen in al-Bab city.
- A member of the “Police and General Security” was shot dead by unknown gunmen in al-Bab.
- A member of the Turkish-backed “Special Units” was shot dead by unknown gunmen in al-Bab city.
Attacks and explosion are on the rise
“Euphrates Shield” areas experienced 13 attacks in April, including gunfire and explosions, and these attacks could be summarised as follows:
- An attack by gunmen from the eastern countryside of Aleppo on a checkpoint of the Turkish-backed police near al-Ku’ayba village in al-Ra’i city in northern Aleppo, where clashes erupted between the police and the attackers who chanted slogans supporting ISIS. The gunmen also attacked a military headquarters of the Turkish-backed militiamen in the same area, injuring one seriously.
- Eight armed attacks took place between 13 to 24 April, which targeted civilians and military personnel in al-Bab city and countryside, al-Ra’i and Jarbulus city and countryside.
- Four explosions took place on April 14, 23 and 27, the prominent of which was the explosion on April 14 when an IED exploded in a Turkish cargo truck carrying yam near Othman Ibn Affan Mosque nearby Al-Bab city, as well as the explosion on April 23, as an IED exploded on the road to al-Ra’i near Ahrar al-Sharqiyyah camp, which injured several Turkish soldiers and resulted in the breakdown of a turksih military vehicle.
In April, tens of the residents of Jabal Sheikh Aqeel in al-Bab city in eastern Aleppo demonstrated every week, after Friday prayer, in front of the Turkish base, demanding Turkish forces and civil councils provide compensation for the destruction of their houses, as Turkish forces devastated their houses after the Turks captured the area and constructed a military base. The demonstrators chanted slogans like “the Turks demolished our homes, the mountain land is ours and they looted it for military purposes.”
Protests were not confined to civilians, as Turkish-backed militiamen also demonstrated on several occasions during April. On April 1, fighters of the Turkish-backed “National Army” gathered in the city of al-Bab, east of Aleppo, in protest against the delay of their salaries from the Turkish side. Syrian Observatory sources said the Turkish intelligence suspended the salaries of the “National Army” about 70 days earlier, amid growing resentment among the fighters due to salary delays.
While on April 5, several families and fighters of factions operating under the banner of the Turkish-backed “National Army” staged a demonstration in Mare’ city in the northern countryside of Aleppo, protesting the cessation of paying their monthly salaries by the Turkish Intelligence for more than two months, demanding the factions’ leaders undertake their responsibilities. The demonstrators lifted placards with slogans on them some of which read “who takes care of the martyrs’ families?! – we are the National Army, we want to get even a little to live, we do not want to have palaces – do not let us starving – we call upon the donor countries to deliver their support to us, nothing reaches us – the families of the National Army’s members dreams of a loaf of bread”.
Also, Azaz city experienced demonstrations for three consecutive days, between April 3 and 5, as dozens of students of the International University of Science and Renaissance protested the decision of the Council of Higher Education of the “Interim Government” and the Free Aleppo University. The students demanded the cancellation of the decision which provided for students in medical branches should do a standard examination at the Free Aleppo University, which was issued earlier, under which a large number of students will be deprived of their seats at the Free Aleppo University. Meanwhile, the “military police” in Azaz area arrested young men who attacked the student demonstration of “Al-Nahda University.” In a related context, the president of the International University of Science and Renaissance resigned after four years at his post, due to conflicts at the university.
North Aleppo countryside also experienced several key development during April 2021 as follows:
- Two Turkish soldiers were killed in shelling by the Kurdish forces, on April 7, on military positions in northern Aleppo.
- A child was killed by a gunshot of unknown origin, while he was grazing sheep on April 11. It is worth noting that the child’s family accused the Kurdish forces of “killing their son.
- A man was killed on April 13, after a grenade exploded by mistake in al-Iman camp in Azaz area.
- A child was shot dead by regime forces nearby Tadef in north-eastern Aleppo.
- On April 29, a fighter jet believed to be Russian struck a military position of the Turkish-backed factions in the surrounding areas of Ain Daqnah village in the west of Azaz in Aleppo countryside, but no casualties were reported.
It seems that the series of violations in “Euphrates Shield” areas will be unstoppable as long as Turkish forces and their proxies keep breaching all international laws and charters, and with no body being able to put an end to these “grave” violations, despite SOHR repeated warnings about the dreadful humanitarian situation in the region.