Turkey intensifies shelling of SDF-held territories

Turkey intensifies shelling of SDF-held territories
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Ankara is flexing its muscles amid growing concerns about a new offensive

The last week of July saw two civilians lose their lives and 15 others wounded in different parts of northern Syria as the Turkish Armed Forces and their proxies escalated their attacks against SDF-held areas.

More than 400 shells pounded villages on the contact lines near the Turkish-Syrian border in Hasakah and Raqqa according to a report by the Syria-based North Press News Agency.

The intense shelling comes on the heels of precision strikes carried out by Turkish drones. These strikes reportedly targeted high-value SDF leaders and Syrian government positions. 

The town of Tel Tamr and its surrounding villages were heavily bombarded by Turkish artillery, according to the North Press report. The power transformer plant of the town went out of service as a result of the shelling.

Russian warplanes were also present in the area at one point, reportedly targeting Turkish-backed Syrian National Army (SNA) elements that are positioned against Syrian government forces to the north of Tel Tamr. 

The Commander-in-chief of the SDF, Mazloum Abdi, called on their partners to help stop Turkey and the SNA from violating a ceasefire that was established in 2019.

Days later, Abdi said that “Drone attacks have increased and started to target NE Syria’s community and its institutions working on the region’s stability.” The commander of the SDF declared that drone attacks had claimed the lives of 13 fighters and 13 civilians.

The attacks also caused protests to erupt in numerous SDF-held towns. Residents of Ain Issa, to the north of Raqqa, took to the streets and protested in front of a Russian base. Infuriated by Russia’s silence against the intensification of Turkish shelling, they demanded action from the Russian forces stationed in the region.

Feminist organizations organized protests in Hasakah in front of a US base. They called on the US and US-led Global Coalition to stop Turkish attacks.

Residents of the border town of Kobani protested in front of a Russian base and condemned Turkey for the increasing strikes and for breaching the ceasefire.

Protestors also took to the streets in Turkish-held Ras al-Ain (Sere Kaniye), with residents protesting against the rapidly-deteriorating security situation. Leaders called for mass protests against the Turkish-backed SNA factions.

On June 28, political parties and forces operating in Northeast Syria called for the implementation of a no-fly zone by the US-led coalition and Russia to prevent Turkey from launching a renewed offensive. There have not been any steps to implement such a zone so far.