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1ST LEAD Turkish shelling near hospital in Afrin kills one, injures five by Weedah Hamzah, dpa

Europe
13.02.2018
By our dpa-correspondent and Europe Online    auf Facebook posten  Auf Twitter posten  
Beirut (dpa) - Turkish forces have shelled an area close to Afrin‘s main hospital in northern Syria, killing one person and injuring five others.

"The Turkish shelling hit the courtyard of the hospital and not its main building, killing a driver and wounding five other people," Joan Chitika, a medical doctor and the head of the hospital, told dpa by phone.

Chitika added that two bodies were brought to the hospital along with six wounded from the Turkish shelling on Afrin‘s residential areas.

"When the attack on Afrin started, the Turkish occupation and their mercenaries used to shell the outskirts of the city, but now, and today especially, they are targeting the centre of the city of Afrin and its only hospital," said Suleiman Jafaar, an official in the local Afrin council.

Turkey and its Syrian rebel allies started their offensive on the Kurdish areas in the region of Afrin on January 20.

Since then, some 60,000 people who used to live in the countryside of Afrin have moved into the city of Afrin to escape the daily shelling, Jaafar said.

According to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, some 75 civilians - among them 21 children - have been killed in the offensive.

Some 163 Kurdish fighters and 211 Turkish-backed rebels, including 34 Turkish soldiers, have so far been killed in the offensive, the Observatory said.

Turkey has said that it has lost 31 soldiers in the Afrin offensive.

The Kurdish People‘s Protection Units (YPG) control the Afrin region, which borders Turkey in north-west Syria. Ankara sees the YPG as a Syrian branch of the banned Kurdistan Workers‘ Party (PKK) and aims to expel the YPG from the border region.

Meanwhile, Syria announced Tuesday its rejection of any efforts led by the United Nations to form a committee to rewrite Syria‘s constitution.

Assistant Foreign Minister Ayman Sousan said that Damascus "is not interested in any committees that are not completely Syrian in composition and chairmanship."

He added that Damascus is committed to only what was voted on during the Syrian National Dialogue Congress that was held in the Russian city of Sochi last month.

The Sochi congress was designed to bring together Syrians of all stripes to discuss a new constitution for Syria. The Kremlin is a staunch military backer of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

The conference attendees agreed in Sochi to set up a constitutional committee in Geneva and to hold democratic elections in Syria.

UN Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura said he would select a committee that comprises members from government, opposition and independent groups.

Nine rounds of UN-brokered peace talks on Syria have failed to lead to direct negotiations between the two sides. Russia‘s efforts at bringing about peace have also seen spotty results.

 

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