12:12 GMT30 March 2020
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    Ankara’s forces and its allied fighters have been moving ahead with an operation in Syria targeting Daesh* and the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) despite criticism from the EU, the US, and the Arab League. According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, at least 38 civilians have been killed since the fighting started five days ago.

    General Secretary of the Future Syria Party Hevrin Khalaf and her driver have been killed on an international road in Syria by Turkey-backed fighters, Kurdish forces report. According to the party, cited by the news outlet Kurdistan 24, the 35-year-old woman, who earlier lambasted Ankara’s attempts “to occupy this land in order to defend the Turkish people” and that they “don’t adjust to reality”, was ambushed on her way from Jazeera canton to Raqqa. The attackers reportedly blocked the road at a checkpoint and killed people there.

    The political wing of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), the Syrian Democratic Council (SDC), later stated that she was “taken out of her car during a Turkish-backed attack and executed by Turkish-backed mercenary factions”, along with her driver.

    “This is clear evidence that the Turkish state is continuing its criminal policy towards unarmed civilians”, their statement reads.

    As the local watchdog the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), cited by The Guardian, claims, the vocal critic of the Turkish offensive was one of nine civilians executed at different points south of the town of Tell Abiad. They are said to have been targeted for their cars by Turkish-backed fighters, who entered Syria amid Ankara’s operation in the Kurdish-held north-eastern part of the war-torn country.

    Turkey’s Armed Forces, along with local fighters supported by Ankara, began a ground offensive called "Operation Peace Spring" in Syria, aimed against the Daesh* terrorist group and the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), on Wednesday. They are continuing their campaign despite pushback from the EU, the US - who backed the pro-Kurdish rebels, and Arab States, as Turkey accuses the Kurdish forces of being affiliated with the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which Ankara has blacklisted as a terror organisation.

    As has been reported, Ankara’s allied groups are former Arab rebels who previously fought President Bashar Assad’s government forces, but allegedly shifted their alliances and are receiving support from Ankara now. According to the SOHR, at least 38 civilians have been killed in Syria along with 81 Kurdish fighters since the operation started. According to Ankara, its forces have neutralised 415 militants since the start of the offensive.

    Videos of the reported killings, allegedly filmed by the attackers and believed to be authentic by US officials, have emerged online. The Guardian reports that they show several people being shot near the road while their suspected killers are heard shouting insults.

    ​Another clip, reportedly leaked by the Ahrar al-Sharqiya rebel group, shows people dressed as civilians on the ground, along with a man dressed in a military uniform shouting at them. Yet another video features a fighter shooting at a civilian. While the authenticity of the clips has been verified by the SOHR, the AFP, however, has not been able confirm it.


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    ground offensive, civilians, political leaders, Kurds, Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), Turkey, Syria
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