Beirut: A human rights organisation on Thursday denounced an attack launched by Turkey in August against US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in which 24 civilians were killed in Syrian territory.
The Human Rights Watch (HRW) NGO said in a statement that the victims included six children and 10-15 fighters from SDF, an Arab-Kurdish armed alliance, Efe news agency reported.
“Available information suggests that both sides could have done more to minimise civilian loss of life as required by the laws of war,” the HRW statement said.
HRW pointed out that two witnesses told the organisation that a Turkish aircraft struck SDF forces before sunrise on August 28 in the north of Aleppo, where Syrian fighters disembarked from military vehicles amidst residential buildings in which about four dozen civilians had sought shelter.
The witnesses added that artillery shelling was also carried out “soon after” the Turkish air bombing.
“The deaths of 24 civilians could have been avoided if the SDF fighters had not positioned themselves among buildings filled with civilians and Turkish forces had made a better effort to determine whether civilians were there,” said Ole Solvang, HRW deputy emergencies director.
Solvang added that “it is unlawful” to put the life of civilians “at unnecessary risk”.
The attack came on the fifth day of Turkey’s unprecedented air and ground campaign in Syria which began on August 24 and was aimed at dislodging both the Islamic State (IS) group and Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) fighters from the area.