Over the past week alone, Kilis, which is home to 132,000 Syrians and just as many Turks, has come under 15 missile and mortar attacks by what the Turkish authorities blame on Kurdish YPG forces in northern Syria.
Two Kilis residents have been killed and another 26, including women and children, injured.
Local residents have told Sputnik about the situation in the city and how they are trying to protect themselves and their homes against the missile strikes, and what they think about Ankara’s Operation Olive Branch in neighboring Syria.
“The missile strikes are sowing panic, fear and anger among locals, especially women and children. They try to stay away from crowded areas and the city center is mostly deserted now. The missile attacks are hampering trade activity in the city. Last year’s missiles strikes by Daesh brought local trade to a complete standstill and we don’t what the same thing happening again,” Ergun Kaya, a local storeowner, told Sputnik Turkey.
He added that on the night Operation Olive Branch began, five missiles landed on the city streets and that similar attacks could happen both in daytime and at night.
Another local resident, Mustafa Durmaz, told Sputnik that despite all these problems, people supported Turkey’s military operation in Afrin.
“We are foursquare behind the operation in Afrin and our country which defends us. First and foremost, we should think about our soldiers, whose decisive action will destroy the terrorist organizations. The situation in Kilis is tense, no doubt about that, but there is a difference between the previous missile attacks against Kilis by Daesh and what we have now. During the Daesh strikes people abandoned their homes and fled to other places. Now no one is fleeing.”
A local cafe owner, Resit Can, said that the citizens are braving the attacks and are not going to leave.
“Last year Daesh terrorists likewise attacked our city and some people fled. Nothing like that is happening now, no one is leaving. The terrorists will not succeed in forcing us to abandon our homes and our jobs. Our country is defending us,” he emphasized.
Explaining the operation as a defense of the country's borders from "terrorists," Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan promised to extend Operation Olive Branch to other Kurdish-populated areas of Syria, such as Manbij, along the entire length of the border.