US-led coalition’s airstrike kills 17 civilians near Syria’s Hajin

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DAMASCUS – At least 17 civilians were killed as a result of the US-led coalition’s airstrike on the territories near the Syrian city of Hajin in Deir ez-Zor province on Sunday, Syria’s state media reported.

According to the Ikhbariya, the airstrike hit the village of Albu Khater.

Meanwhile, al-Watan newspaper specified that the majority of those killed were women and children. The US-led coalition of over 70 countries has been carrying out airstrikes on the city of Hajin and its surroundings on a regular basis on the pretext of assisting the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in its fight against the Islamic State terrorist group (IS, banned in Russia).

The Syrian media have reported about civilian casualties as result of the coalition’s airstrikes and the use of white phosphorus on numerous occasions. The Syrian authorities, in particular, urged the United Nations to take measures targeting the perpetrators of the attacks and put an end to the coalition’s unauthorized presence in Syria.

Terror Attack in Afrin leaves dozens injured

Five Turkish civilians died as a result of an explosion in Syria’s Afrin, Lebanon’s al-Mayadeen broadcaster reported, citing an informed source. However, no official confirmation of the attack, the number of casualties or reasons behind it has been made.

The bomb-laden vehicle exploded in the northern Syrian city of Afrin, leaving dozens of casualties in its wake, a Kurdish source told Sputnik. “The car exploded in the al-Hal market. According to our data, dozens of civilians were wounded,” the source stated. According to the source, another vehicle loaded with an explosive device was found in the western part of Afrin.

Until this year, the Syrian city of Afrin has been under control of Kurdish forces. However, as a result of the Turkish military operation dubbed the Olive Branch, the Kurdish forces have been forced out. Later, the Turkish military has handed over control over the city to the local police forces.

The mentioned Turkish military operation has been launched on January 20, with the support of the Free Syrian Army opposition forces. The goal of the operation was to clear Turkey’s Syrian border of the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) and the Democratic Union Party (PYD), which Turkey believes to be linked to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). Both YPG and PKK are considered terrorist organizations by Ankara.

US warns Syrian opposition,

FSA not to back Turkey’s Op

US intelligence and diplomatic officials have urged the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces (SMDK) not to support the planned Turkish military operation against the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) east of the Euphrates River.

Turkey’s Anadolu news agency cited a number US officials as saying in a message that any participation by SMDK or FSA in the operation is “an attack on the United States and the Coalition Forces”, which may lead to “direct confrontation” with them. “That will fully destroy” the relations between the US, SMDK and FSA, Washington warned. The US officials also recalled the interaction of the US military with the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), insisting that the group “cannot be attacked without aggression and confrontation with Coalition Forces and US forces and advisers.”

“When elephants dance, you must stay away from the dance floor,” they noted. The remarks came after Turkish President Recep Tayyip and his US counterpart Donald Trump discussed Ankara’s future military operation in eastern Syria over the phone. Erdogan shared with Trump his concerns over the YPG’s growing military presence, supported by the United States, as the two leaders agreed to coordinate military actions on the Turkish-Syrian border.

Earlier, the Turkish President signalled Ankara’s readiness to launch an operation against the YPG “in a few days” if the United States does not withdraw them from the area. The past few years have seen friction emerge between Turkey and the US, in part due to Ankara’s concerns over US support for the YPG, viewed by the Turkish authorities as an affiliate of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), blacklisted as a terrorist organisation in Turkey, the US and the EU. Moreover, Ankara has repeatedly accused Washington of failing to fulfil its promises regarding the withdrawal of the YPG from Syria’s Manbij, something that Turkey claims threatens its national security. Earlier this year, Ankara conducted an offensive against the Kurdish militia in Syria’s northern border city of Afrin.

In late March, Trump announced that the US would be withdrawing from Syria “very soon”, a statement that came at odds with previous remarks by senior Pentagon and State Department officials who said that US armed forces would preserve an open-ended presence in Syria.

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