At least 13 people have been killed and 27 wounded in a series of shootings in Turkish-backed areas.
At least 13 people, including two medical personnel, have been killed and several others wounded in two separate Turkish-backed artillery attacks in the northern Syrian city of Afrin, activists and aid workers said on Sunday.
The first attack hit a residential area, and the second hit a hospital shortly afterwards, civil defense sources told Reuters. Footage posted on social media shows victims in the background of the ruins of Al-Shifa Hospital, who returned to service after the attack.
It was not immediately clear who was behind the shelling, which reportedly came from areas where Syrian government forces and Kurdish-led fighters are stationed.
The governor of the Turkish province of Hatay, on the border beyond Afrin, the Turkish Defense Ministry said 13 civilians were killed and 27 wounded in the attack, adding that it was a rocket-propelled grenade attack on a hospital. The governor’s office blames the attack on Kurdish groups in Syria.
Ankara condemned the attack, saying it was initiated by the Syrian Kurdish People’s Defense Units (YPG), which is the backbone of the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). The SDF said it was not behind the attack.
Ankara considers the YPG a “terrorist” group linked to the Kurdish separatist group inside Turkey, the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). US և The European Union calls the PKK a “terrorist group”.
The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says 18 people have been killed. Al Jazeera could not determine the exact number of casualties.
“The bomber struck shortly after noon in front of a Syrian Observatory for Human Rights,” said Rami Abdurrahman, director of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
The shelling started in the northern province of Aleppo, where militants loyal to Iran [Syrian] “The regime is located near Kurdish-controlled areas,” he added.
The Syrian American Medical Association (SAMS), an aid group supporting health centers in opposition areas, confirmed that the hospital had been targeted by two rockets that destroyed the clinic, emergency room and maternity wards.
Two of the 13 killed were hospital staff and two were ambulance drivers, SAMS reported. Eleven employees were injured.
SAMS said the hospital was one of the largest facilities in northern Syria, offering thousands of medical services each month, and its coordinates were shared as part of a UN-led disorientation mechanism.
In 2018, Afrin was mainly cleared of YPG fighters through a military operation by Turkey. Ankara now has a large military presence in the area, deploying thousands of troops.