First Published: 2018-01-19

Mortar fire wounds 14 in Syria mental hospital
Mortar rounds fired on rebel-held town of Azaz by Kurdish YPG-dominated Syrian Democratic Forces.
Middle East Online

Syrian patients sit at mental health clinic in Azaz.

AZAZ - Mortar fire on a town in northern Syria held by Turkish-backed rebels wounded at least 14 people in a psychiatric hospital, a monitor said on Friday.

The Thursday evening fire on the town of Azaz just across the border from Turkey came after Ankara bombarded the adjacent Kurdish-held enclave of Afrin for five straight days ahead of a threatened invasion.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based monitor of the war, said the mortar rounds were fired by the Syrian Democratic Forces, a US-backed alliance dominated by the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG).

But SDF spokesman Mustefa Bali denied that the alliance fired the rounds that hit the hospital.

Observatory chief Rami Abdel Rahman said most of the wounded were among the more than 100 patients being treated at the hospital, many for post-traumatic stress disorder resulting from Syria's near seven-year civil war.

Paramedics transferred the wounded patients to a nearby clinic. One had lost several fingers.

The mortar fire destroyed a second-storey wall of the hospital, showering the beds of the ward with debris.

The Turkish army condemned the mortar fire and said wounded civilians were also taken across the border into Turkey for treatment.

Turkish forces on Friday began shelling the YPG enclave of Afrin from frontier Hatay province, according to the state-run Anadolu news agency.

Turkey has said repeatedly this week that an operation to oust the YPG from Afrin is imminent and has massed troops and armour on the border.

It regards the YPG as an offshoot of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), an outlawed rebel goup that has waged a deadly insurgency in southeastern Turkey since 1984.

The YPG, which also controls a much larger stretch of the border region further east, has vowed to defend the enclave.

Russia has some 300 military observers deployed in Afrin and, on Thursday, Turkey's army and intelligence chiefs held talks in Moscow that were seen as an essential precursor to any invasion.

 

Turkey, US agree to ‘work together’ in Syria

Fears of expanding Syrian war could trigger peace deal

Netanyahu warns Iran, brandishes piece of metal

66 feared dead as plane crashes in Iranian mountains

Students in Damascus brave shelling to attend school

Israeli, US officials meet over gas row with Lebanon

Iran's supreme leader says progress needed on justice

Syria Kurds claim striking positions in Turkey

Saudi women to open businesses without male permission

Netanyahu slams 'outrageous' Holocaust remark by Polish PM

Israeli air strikes kill 2 in Gaza

Six suffer breathing difficulties after Turkish shelling in Afrin

Russian mercenaries - a discrete weapon in Syria

Iran protests ban on wrestler who threw bout to avoid Israel

Battle to free Mosul of IS 'intellectual terrorism'

Turkey frees Garman-Turk journalist after one year without charge

Turkey hands life sentences to 3 journalists for Gulen links

Thousands protest corruption in Tel Aviv amid PM indictment call

Prominent jihadist commander killed by rival Syria rebels

300 Russians killed in Syria battle last week

Tillerson, Erdogan have ‘productive, open’ talk

Iran raises rates, freezes accounts in bid to shore up rial

Kremlin says five Russians killed in US Syria strikes

Oman FM in rare visit by Arab official to Jerusalem

Senior IS leader extradited to Iraq from Turkey

Strikes hit another hospital in Syria's Idlib

Churches snub Jerusalem reception over tax dispute with Israeli authorities

Tillerson says US never gave 'heavy arms' to Kurdish YPG

Captured foreign IS suspects claim innocence

Yemeni mother awaits death penalty for spying for UAE

Fuel shortage shuts down Gaza's only power plant

Morocco arrests three suspected IS terrorists

Family of dead environmentalist in Iran threatened

Israel hands life sentence to Palestinian for triple murder

US appeals to Turkey to concentrate on fighting IS

Turkey sets up new 'observation point' in Syria's Idlib

Malaysia rejects criticism over Israeli visit

Tillerson in Ankara to ease Turkey tensions

Egypt arrests ex-presidential candidate

Tillerson: Hezbollah is part of Lebanon's 'political process'

Netanyahu says government ‘stable’ despite police recommending indictment

Corruption accusations facing Netanyahu

Syria denies ‘unacceptable’ chemical weapons use

Nations pledge nearly $25 billion toward Iraq's reconstruction

Egypt remands in custody former anti-corruption chief