Turkish forces have opened fire at protesters near Syria’s mainly Kurdish town of Kobani, killing two and injuring seven more, Reuters reported on Tuesday, citing a monitor and a witness.
According to the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group, the Turkish forces conducting a joint patrol near the town along the Syrian-Turkish border on Tuesday fired on the protesters, killing two and wounding seven.
The forces fired live rounds into the air so as to scatter Kobani residents, who were throwing stones at the patrol in an effort to block it, the witness also told Reuters.
He added that three people were wounded when Turkish forces fired bullets and tear gas at the protesters soon afterward, without mentioning any protesters being killed.
Last month, Turkey launched a cross-border military offensive into northeastern Syria targeting the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) militia in the region, seizing control of 120 km (75 miles) of land along the frontier.
Moscow and Ankara reportedly agreed, under a subsequent deal, to push the YPG forces at least 30 km (19 miles) south of the frontier and to hold joint patrols.
The Turkish government deems YPG a terrorist group over its links to the Kurdish separatists on its soil called the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
The outlawed PKK, which is also listed as a terror organization by Ankara, has waged a decades-long insurgency for Kurdish self-rule in Turkey.
“Turkish army is firing live bullets on Kurdish protesters and killing them in broad daylight, before eyes of the whole world,” said Mustafa Bali, spokesman for the YPG-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), on Tuesday in a tweet.
“Stop the reckless and coward attacks on civilians now!” Bali emphasized.
Turkish army is firing live bullets on Kurdish protesters and killing them in broad day light, before eyes of the whole world. Kurds are being killed in their homes by whom the US&Russia claim the region would be safer with! Stop the reckless and coward attacks on civilians now! pic.twitter.com/pCrAylBkrR
— Mustafa Bali (@mustefabali) November 12, 2019
Tuesday’s reported shooting was the first such occurrence since the patrols began under the Russian-Turkish deal that allowed Turkish troops to enter the border region on October 22.
Turkey’s Defense Ministry expressed in a written statement on Tuesday that the joint land patrol with Russia was held “with due care and diligence for the safety of both civilians and our military personnel despite provocation by terrorists.”
The Russian Defense Ministry was also quoted as saying by the TASS news agency that Turkish forces and Russian military police carried out the patrol north of Kobani, without referring to the reported shooting incident.