Suspected Turkish airstrikes target al-Hol camp
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Affected Countries: turkey;
Suspected Turkish airstrikes targeted Kurdish positions in the notorious al-Hol camp in northeast Syria (Rojava) which houses thousands of families with links to the Islamic State (ISIS), local media reported on Wednesday, adding that a number of families have taken advantage of the situation and fled.
The airstrikes targeted the vicinity of the camp on Wednesday afternoon and resulted in a number of families fleeing, triggering an ensuing combing operation by internal security forced (Asayish) attempting to arrest those who have fled, Hawar News Agency (ANHA) reported.
The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) also reported the attack, calling the situation in al-Hol a “state of chaos” and stressing that ISIS-linked families are attempting to flee.
The airstrikes follow the launching of a fresh Turkish aerial operation, dubbed “Claw-Sword,” targeting positions of the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) in Syria and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in the Kurdistan Region.
Dozens of Turkish drones and airstrikes have struck positions of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) since Wednesday morning, incurring numerous fatalities and dealing heavy material damages as hostilities in northern Syria surge, according to SOHR.
On Wednesday, a Turkish drone strike targeted a Kurdish office inside a base jointly operated by the SDF and Russian troops, killing an SDF fighter and wounding a further four, including a Russian soldier.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Wednesday that Turkey would launch a ground operation in Syria “when convenient,” warning that the aerial incursion was “just the beginning” during a meeting in Ankara as Turkish artillery strikes targeted the Kurdish city of Kobane in northern Syria, causing severe destruction to civilian infrastructure including a hospital.
At least eleven civilians have been killed by Turkish airstrikes in northern Syria since Ankara launched the aerial offensive on Sunday, according to data sent to Rudaw English by the Rojava Information Center (RIC), while the SDF report a higher casualty figure at over 15.
Turkish airstrikes have also targeted oil fields in Rojava, which are the Kurdish administration’s main sources of income. ANHA on Wednesday said that Turkish warplanes targeted an oil field in Tirbespiye town, resulting in the field engulfing in flames.
Ankara says that the latest operation is aimed at targeting YPG and PKK positions in northern Syria and the Kurdistan Region. The YPG is a Kurdish force that is the backbone of the SDF but alongside the PKK is considered a terrorist organization by Turkey.
The SDF arrested thousands of ISIS fighters along with their wives and children when they took control of the group’s last stronghold in Syria in March 2019. Many of these people were taken to al-Hol and Roj camps.
The notorious al-Hol camp in Hasaka province – the larger of the two – houses around 56,000, according to UN figures. The camps also witness regular crimes and killings at the hands of ISIS cells roaming in the facility and is labeled as a “ticking time bomb” by authorities, who describe the situation in the camp as “very dangerous.”