Turkey-backed groups behind Syria strike that killed children - UN rights chief

Turkey-backed armed groups are behind an attack in northern Syria’s Tel Rifaat, which killed a dozen civilians, most of who were children, a spokesperson for the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) said.

“Ground-based strikes by Turkish-affiliated armed groups” near a school in Tel Rifaat, located south of the Turkish border, this week left at least 12 civilians dead, including children between the ages of 3 to 15, Kurdistan 24 news site quoted Rupert Colville as saying. 

Turkish troops and allied Syrian rebels launched a cross-border offensive into northeast Syria on Oct. 9, aiming to clear the region of Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG), a group Ankara considers "terrorists" linked to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and create a safe zone for the resettlement of millions of refugees. 

Turkey halted the operation on day nine, after striking two separate deals with the United States and Russia, calling for the withdrawal of the YPG from the planned safe zone.

Intermittent fighting continues despite a ceasefire in northern Syria, Colville said, expressing his concern over the indiscriminate use of Improvised Explosive Device (IED) attacks in residential neighbourhoods and local markets.

The offensive has led to the displacement of 200,000 people and Turkey’s Syrian Arab proxies are accused of carrying out summary executions and beatings, kidnapping and looting houses and businesses.

At least 34 children have been killed in the north of Syria in the past four weeks alone, UNICEF said on Monday. 

The OHCHR has recorded a rise in IED attacks, including with vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices (VBIEDs), in populated areas like residential neighbourhoods and busy markets in Hasakah, Raqqa, and Aleppo since Oct. 22 Ankara-Washington ceasefire agreement, Colville said. 

The OHCHR said it recorded at least 49 attacks, 43 of which were in region’s Turkish-affiliated forces occupy between Oct. 22 -Dec. 3. At least 78 civilians were killed in the attacks, it said.

“These attacks have mainly been carried out in areas under the control of Turkish forces and affiliated armed groups,” he said. ”Such use may amount to an indiscriminate attack, a serious violation of international humanitarian law, and constitutes a war crime”. 

https://www.kurdistan24.net/en/news/3bc005ee-6b28-473b-a7d6-2c14129aacfb