Syria: Hundreds of civilian lives at risk as Afrin offensive escalates
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28 February 2018

According to the Kurdish Red Crescent, between 22 January and 21 February 2018, 93 civilians were killed, including 24 children. A further 313 civilians were wounded, including 51 children. People living in the Afrin villages of Jenderess, Rajo and Maabatli described how they were subjected to hours of indiscriminate shelling even after Turkish forces promised to ensure civilian protection. Some fled their houses and saw their neighbours being killed. Zeina, a resident of Jenderess which is located seven kilometres from the Turkish border, told Amnesty International: “At the beginning, we were relieved when we heard and saw a statement by the Turkish government on TV claiming that they will not shell civilian areas… But it was all a lie. I have never see shelling like that, the bombs were pouring on us like rain.” Sido, a resident of Maabatli, described how a shell hit his neighbor’s house on 25 January, killing five out of six family members: “The attack destroyed the house completely, killing the father, mother and three children younger than 15, and a fourth child – a girl – stayed under the rubble for several hours. She survived but is in critical condition… There are no military headquarters next to the house… The closest frontline is 41 km away at the border.” The Digital Verification Corps was able to independently confirm this deadly attack in Maabatli. Hussein, a resident of Jenderess, witnessed his neighbor being killed by shells which residents believed were fired by Turkish artillery on 21 January. He said: “We were having breakfast around 8am when we heard explosions... we packed what we could carry and fled to a basement around 200 metres from our house. On the way, we saw Fatme, our 60-year-old neighbor. My mother told her to come with us but she replied that she would follow us. As soon as we arrived, we heard a huge explosion. I went outside and walked towards the smoke because I feared that my house had been hit. I arrived and saw that a shell had landed around 50 metres from my house. The shell landed on Fatma’s house... She died instantly.” Most people had been unprepared for the onslaught on residential areas and had to scramble into crowded basements with no time to stock up food or water, hoping that the shells would not reach them.

Kurdish Red Crescent Statement on the HRW Report on Unlawful Civilians Deaths in Afrin