Turkish attacks on the town of al-Bab held by the Islamic State extremist militia in northern Syria have killed no fewer than 24 civilians over the past 24 hours, a monitoring group said on Thursday.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights Head, Rami Abdel-Rahman, told newsmen that the dead included 11 children.
“The latest toll raised to 89 the number of civilian deaths in al-Bab since the Turkish forces and allied Syrian rebels started a new offensive to capture al-Bab from Islamic State on February 7.
“Due to the heavy bombardment, 70 per cent of al-Bab has been destroyed.
“The presence of Islamic State anywhere does not give the Turkish government or other forces an excuse to kill Syrian civilians,’’ Abdel-Rahman said.
Turkey began its assault on al-Bab in November, but has been bogged down amid heavy resistance by Islamic State, resulting in casualties on the Turkish side.
Abdel-Rahman said that a total of 409 civilians had been killed there since November as a result of the Turkish bombardment.
On Tuesday, Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildiri said his country’s forces and allies controlled most of al-Bab, a claim disputed by the Observatory.
“These reports are not true. If they have taken most of al-Bab, why are they still heavily bombarding it,’’ Abdel-Rahman said.
Turkey launched cross-border operations inside Syria in August, attacking both Islamic State and Kurdish forces.
The U.S., which is allied with the Kurds against Islamic State, pushed Turkey to refrain from further attacks against the Kurds. (dpa/NAN)