Twenty-two civilians dead amid Turkish shelling, airstrikes on Afrin

BEIRUT, Weedah Hamzah (dpa) - Fresh Turkish shelling and airstrikes Friday on the city of Afrin in northern Syria left 22 people dead, among them seven children, prompting an exodus from the city, according to a Kurdish official and a monitoring group.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the fresh strikes and shelling prompted more civilians to flee the city into the government-held areas of Nubul and Zhara.

The watchdog said that, in the last 48 hours, more than 35,000 civilians have fled the city of Afrin.
The shelling targeted the city's residential area of Ashrafieh, leaving 30 people injured, Redur Khalil, an official with the US-backed, Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), said in a statement.
Pictures posted by Kurdish activists showed children crying and covered with blood as they were brought into the Afrin City Hospital.
A video shared in a WhatsApp group of Kurdish activists showed a nurse calling on the international community, in English, to help the civilians of Afrin.
"We are understaffed, with no medical supplies and we have a lot of wounded who need urgent care," the nurse said.
The city of Afrin has been under siege by Turkish forces and allied rebels since Monday. Daily shelling targeting the city prompted thousands to flee to fields nearby.
The Turkish offensive against the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) in Afrin started on January 20. Ankara considers the YPG a terrorist organization linked to outlawed Kurdish militants on its soil.
The YPG is the main component of the SDF, the formal US partner in Syria, which was leading the fighting against Islamic State is northern and eastern Syria.
The Observatory said that, since the Turkish offensive in Afrin began on January 20, around 249 people have been killed, including 43 children.

Friday, March 16th 2018
Weedah Hamzah

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