Syrian Kurds: Turkish military forces hit school, water plant in Afrin

File photo.

Syrian Kurdish groups and Syrian state media have claimed on Wednesday that Turkish military forces shelled a primary school and a water plant in Afrin region of northern Syria. A Turkish military denied the allegations.

YPG spokesman Nouri Mahmoud said Turkish military forces and its Syrian rebel allies hit the main water plant that supplies Afrin city. Technicians, he said, were trying to repair destruction at the treatment and pumping facility after the artillery knocked it out of service. Mahmoud said shells also struck a primary school in the Maydanki village a day earlier but caused no casualties.

The Syrian state news agency SANA has also said the bombardment wrecked parts of the school.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based war monitoring group, said Turkish troops caused damages at the plant, 9 km northeast of Afrin city. The facility supplies drinking water to hundreds of thousands of residents and displaced people in the wider Afrin region, the Observatory said.

Turkish Armed Forces on Wednesday dismissed the “disinformation campaigns” against the recently launched military operation in Afrin. According to a statement posted on its Twitter account, the military said only “terrorists,” not civilians and innocent people, are being targeted in operation.

The military said the operation was launched to ensure security and stability along Turkish borders, to neutralize PKK/KCK/PYD-YPG and alleged ISIL terrorists in the Afrin region and “to protect the friendly and brotherly people of that area from the oppression of these terrorist groups.”

Referring to the fake claims on the Afrin operation especially on the social media, the military defended that “Recently, there have been some deliberate news, comments and disinformation campaigns aiming to question the legitimacy of the operation. It is obvious that these efforts based on lies and slanders are being made by terrorist organizations and their supporters.”

“The purpose of these attempts is to cast a shadow over the operation, which is being carried out on completely legitimate grounds in a transparent manner. These acts should totally be ignored.”

The military reassured that only terror targets and their shelters, positions, weapons and equipment were being destroyed and the “utmost care and sensitivity” were being showed to not harm civilians and the environment. “At the same time, religious, cultural, historical and archaeological sites as well as public facilities have not been chosen as targets by the Turkish Armed Forces since the very beginning of this operation…” it claimed.

All targets hit by the Turkish Armed Forces are being registered, said the military statement and added that “Napalm, chemical, biological and similar ammunition, prohibited by international law and treaties, is not being used by the Turkish Air Force and the Ground Fire Support Units at all. Also, such ammunition does not exist in our inventory.”

Turkish military asserted that the “Operation Olive Branch” is being conducted “successfully” against all terrorist organizations including ISIL, on the basis of moral values and international law to ensure peace and stability in the region.

US support for the Kurdish-led forces has infuriated Turkey, which views growing Kurdish power as a security threat along its frontier. Ankara regards the YPG as terrorists and an extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) that has waged a three-decade insurgency on Turkish soil. Ankara launched an air and ground assault June 20 against the Kurdish YPG militia in the Afrin region along its border, opening a new front in Syria’s multi-sided, almost seven-year-old war.

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