The shelling was reportedly carried out from the Turkey’s Hatay province.
The Turkish Armed Forces carried out at least 10 strikes on the positions of the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) in the Afrin district of northern Syria, the Haber Turk broadcaster reported.
According to media, the fire was opened from the bordering Turkish province of Hatay. As the channel notes, Kurdish forces responded to the attack, making several shells back to Turkey.
The Kurdish news agency Firat reported of seven settlements shelled by the Turkish Armed Forces, allegedly causing civilian casualties, with a 6-year old child among wounded.
The report claims that intensive fire was conducted along the heights of Tell-Badran, Tell-Bakhtiyar and Tell-Dustan, where the YPG defensive lines are located. Currently, there is official data on losses among Kurdish fighters.
The news agency also mentioned an unusual movement of armored vehicles in the border zone on the Turkish side, adding that the YPG fighters, preparing to repel an invasion of the Turkish troops, blocked the highway from Afrin to Aazaz with antitank moats.
The report occurred after earlier in the day Turkish Defense Minister Nurettin Canikli has announced “de facto” launch of a military operation in Syria’s Afrin, with no troops officially deployed in the city.
As the minister explained the move, it was “right to self-defense in line with international law,” adding that Turkey was preparing for the upcoming operation aimed at destroying all “terrorist corridors.”
According to him, Ankara was consulting the military advance in Afrin with other guarantors of the Syrian peace settlement, Russia and Iran. However, no official statement on the issue was made by the Russian Defense Ministry at the moment.
The operation didn’t come of a sudden: Turkey has been threatening to launch it since last week after the US announced its decision to start training a border protection force composed of the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, which Ankara calls a “terrorist army.”
The move was widely criticized by US State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert, calling on Turkey not to engage in any invasion of Syria’s Afrin and met the warning of the Syrian side, vowing to destroy Turkish aircraft if they attack.