The Turkish flag flutters in Afrin city amid ongoing fighting in it and in pockets of the Kurdish forces and destroying the statue of the Kurdish symbol "Kaveh the Blacksmith" in the middle of the city • The Syrian Observatory For Human Rights

The Turkish flag flutters in Afrin city amid ongoing fighting in it and in pockets of the Kurdish forces and destroying the statue of the Kurdish symbol “Kaveh the Blacksmith” in the middle of the city

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights learned that the Turkish forces started with the Syrian rebel and Islamic opposition factions, to sweep Afrin city, after they took the control of portions of the city, as there are pockets of the YPG still fighting against the Turkish forces inside the city and in its outskirts, which the Turkish forces targeted by a successive shelling by shells and missiles, and the advancement of these Turkish forces and the control of the most of the city, came after intensive aerial and ground shelling, which have targeted Afrin area and its city, since the 20th of January 2018, the date of starting the Turkish Operation “Olive Branch”, which aims to control Afrin city and countryside, where the Turkish flags were raised on the main institutions of the city and the self-management headquarters in Afrin, and the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitored that the Turkish forces started their attack on the city, backed by a cover of intensive rocket and artillery shelling, amid mass displacement of citizens got out from the city towards the northern countryside of Aleppo, and the areas where the regime forces deployed recently, while fears are still continuing over the lives of civilians still stay in Afrin city and the villages of its countryside, as the Turkish forces imposed their control over most of the remaining villages and started to sweep it, with their control imposed over Maabatli town which is the only town to be inhabited by Kurdish citizens of Alawite community.

Reliable sources told the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights that a large number of villages subjected to robberies by the forces of the “Olive Branch” Operation led by the Turkish forces, where the machineries and agricultural tools have been seized and the houses have been robbed, and sources confirmed to the SOHR that some citizens found that their houses are empty and their agricultural machineries and tools have been seized, while the SOHR monitored that fighters of the factions operating within Operation “Olive Branch” have destroyed the statue of the Kurdish symbol “Kaveh the Blacksmith”, whose statue was placed in one of the squares of Afrin city, which is coincided with approaching the festivals of Nowruz which is held on the 21stof March 2018, while the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights published today morning, that 1500 fighters at least of the YPG and the Self-Defense forces, were killed since Operation “Olive Branch” started on the 20th of January 2018, until now, while clashes are accompanied with renewed shelling which caused more human losses, where it rose to 496 including 78 soldiers of the Turkish forces, the number of the members and fighters of the Turkish forces and the factions who were killed in the clashes against the Kurdish Units in Afrin area, while 91 members at least of regime forces’ NDF were killed in the Turkish shelling since they started to enter on the 20th of February 2018, and the SOHR also documented 289 including 43 children and 28 citizens, the number of civilians of the al-Kurds, Arabs and Armenians, who were killed in the Turkish aerial, artillery and missile shelling, and in executions against several citizens in Afrin area since the 20th of January 2018, also the shelling injured hundreds of citizens with varying severity.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights received a video showing a fighter of the factions of “Olive Branch” Operation talking to an old woman –who stayed in her village- in which he made fun of her, and he ended his talk –talking to the woman- after promising to reach Iraq, saying: “you need a country.. you need to slayed from here”, also the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights received copies of audio recordings of commanders and members of the factions operating in the “Olive Branch” Forces; threatening to go to Manbij and the Syrian Jazeerah and reach al-Ya’rubiyah Crossing in the Syrian-Turkish-Iraqi border triangle when they are done with Afrin, while clashes are accompanied with renewed shelling which caused more human losses, also the SOHR obtained a copy of a video shot by a member of “Olive Branch” Operation Forces, in which he said that he is in Al-Shiekh Hadid town, which was confirmed by sourced to the Observatory. The fighter said in this video: “this is the fully liberated Sheikh Hadid free of separatist terrorist, and I urge the brothers and displaced people, who were displaced from Al-Raqqa, Al-Tabqa and other areas controlled by the separatist betrayals, to come and take a house with an olive land”. This video comes after other videos obtained by the SOHR which show fighters of Operation “Olive Branch” threatening the inhabitants of Afrin, directing their message through one of the fighters who said “to the Kurdish infidels, we inform you that if you turn to God in repentance, you have to know that you are our brothers, but if you do not, then we see your heads have been ripe and we have come to pick them up”, and the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights mentioned that the video is likely to be filmed in the Sheikh Hadid area in the western countryside of Afrin, from one of the villages controlled by Turkish forces and the rebel and Islamic factions. Afrin area has witnessed similar calls from other to settle Syrian people displaced from other provinces inside these villages.

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