On October 9th, the Turkish military crossed the Syrian border to combat regional Kurds whom Ankara claims are working with the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) against its interests. Hundreds of civilians have been killed and thousands forced to flee north-eastern Syria since the commencement of the military operation.
The humanitarian situation is getting worse. A US-sponsored ceasefire has been violated by the Turkish military which has continued air strikes and ground assaults, according to General Mazloum Kobani Abdi, a top commander of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), resulting in 50 deaths and hundreds of injuries on the Kurdish side.
The SDF says Turkey and its allies continue to shell Syrian villages close to Ras al-Ain, and that its forces have come under assault by heavy artillery as the Turkish forces attempted to push deeper into Syria using armoured vehicles.
“Despite the agreement to halt the fighting, air and artillery attacks continue to target the positions of fighters, civilian settlements and the hospital” in Ras al-Ayn, tweeted Mustafa Bali, SDF spokesman.
The New York Times on October 18th also reported bombardment and gunfire in the town while the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights stated that Turkish forces have shelled medical and aid organisations to prevent injured civilians from evacuating the town.
The Turkish incursion in Syria is also being investigated for alleged use of white phosphorous. The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) says it is gathering evidence about claims that Turkish forces used substances similar to white phosphorus in air strikes on Ras al-Ayn town. Doctors treating the injured say they exhibit burns consistent with white phosphorus wounds.
Furthermore, Amnesty International said it has “damning evidence” that Turkey and its Syrian affiliates are mounting attacks against residential areas.
On October 12th, Turkish air forces bombed a shelter, housing civilians trying to escape the fighting in Salhiye. The same day also witnessed the sadistic murder of Kurdish politician Hervin Khalaf at the hands of the Turkish-allied Syrian National Army.
The next day Turkey shelled a convoy of civilians killing six of them.