Middle East Morning

Fears over humanitarian impact of Turkey’s military offensive in Syria

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(CNN)Concerns are growing over the humanitarian impact caused by Turkey’s military offensive into northeastern Syria, an operation that has sparked a political firestorm in the United States over the fate of US-allied Kurds in the area.

At least eight people were killed — including three Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) fighters and five civilians — and dozens of others were injured during the first day of the Turkish military operation, the SDF tweeted late Wednesday.
International aid agencies say that hundreds of thousands of people, who have already endured eight years of a protracted conflict, could be at risk as Turkey launches air and ground strikes to clear US-allied Kurdish forces from its border areas.
“As Turkish offensive in Syria begins, the IRC is deeply concerned about the lives and livelihoods of the two million civilians in northeast Syria who have already survived ISIS brutality and multiple displacements,” the International Rescue Committee said in a statement Thursday.
As a barrage of airstrikes and artillery fire volleyed into northern Syria Wednesday, chaotic scenes unfolded on the ground as people tried to flee to safety. Roads were gridlocked with hundreds of fleeing families, motorcycles piled with five to six people and mattresses strapped to cars.
Reports began to filter in on Wednesday following the aerial bombardment, with the SDF tweeting that two civilians had been killed and two others injured in the village of Misharrafa, west of Ras al-Ain.
The US-backed SDF said civilian homes in the village of Sikarkah in eastern Qamishli and areas near the Bouzra dam in Derik — which provides water to hundreds of thousands of civilians in northern Syria — were also targeted.
The group has called on the international community for assistance, saying the border areas of northeast Syria “are on the edge of a possible humanitarian catastrophe.”
Turkey, which maintains the aim of the offensive is to eliminate “terrorists” in Syria, said it had hit a total of 181 targets belonging to a “terror organization,” the Turkish Defense Ministry said Wednesday.

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