At least 13 killed in artillery attacks on northern Syria town

First attack strikes residential area and second a hospital, say civil defence sources

A man looks through the rubble of a destroyed house in the village of Iblin, in the Jabal al-Zawiya region of Syria’s rebel-held northwestern Idlib province, in recent days, after a bombardment. Photograph:  Abdulaziz Ketaz/AFP/Getty

A man looks through the rubble of a destroyed house in the village of Iblin, in the Jabal al-Zawiya region of Syria’s rebel-held northwestern Idlib province, in recent days, after a bombardment. Photograph: Abdulaziz Ketaz/AFP/Getty

 

At least 13 people were killed and several wounded in two separate artillery attacks on the northern Syrian town of Afrin on Saturday, local medical sources said.

The first attack struck a residential area, while the second hit a hospital shortly afterwards, civil defence sources said.

Video footage on social media showed casualties amid the ruins of the Al Shifa hospital.

Turkey’s Anadolu agency also put the number of those killed at 13 and said 27 were injured.

A local Turkish official said sources at the hospital claimed the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia hit the building with a missile launcher, according to initial reports. The official said Turkish artillery were shelling rural positions near the city of Maarat al-Numan in response.

The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), the US-backed militia force spearheaded by the Kurdish YPG, later said it was not responsible for the attack.

The governor’s office in Turkey’s Hatay province, bordering Afrin, said it was investigating the incident and that missiles were fired from the Tel Rifat area controlled by the Syrian government.

Turkey regards the YPG as a terrorist group tied to the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) inside its own borders, and has staged incursions into Syria in support of Syrian rebels to push it from the Turkish frontier.

Ankara now retains a large military presence in the area, deploying thousands of troops in the last rebel enclave. – Reuters