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21 dead since Turkey-Syria ceasefire

Damascus : Twenty civilians and Turkish soldier have been killed since a ceasefire was agreed three days ago to halt Ankara’s offensive in northeastern Syria, authorities said on Sunday.

The Kurdish Red Crescent said that of the 20 civilian victims, four died in a hospital in the Syrian border town of Ras al-Ain which was partially destroyed and besieged by Turkish forces, reports Efe news.

“Since the ceasefire agreement between the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and the Turkish government, Kurdish Red Crescent teams recorded 20 civilians killed and 20 wounded,” the NGO said Sunday morning in its daily report.

Since the ceasefire was penned between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and US Vice President Mike Pence on Thursday night, the city of Ras al-Ain has been under attack by Turkish forces and Syrian rebels backed by Ankara.

Rebels that oppose the Syrian Bashar al-Assad government have blocked access to a humanitarian convoy that was aiming to reach the only hospital in Ras al-Ain. It finally reached its destination on Saturday.

“Finally, a convoy of Kurdish Red Crescent ambulances and the medical aid NGO Cadus arrived at the main hospital in Ras al-Ain and evacuated 30 injured and four lifeless bodies, which we did not have the opportunity to rescue before,” the Kurdish Red Crescent said.

Kurdish authorities on Saturday said “more than 235”, including 22 children, had died since the launch of the military campaign as well as 677 wounded.

On the other hand, Turkish authorities denounced violations to the ceasefire on Sunday and reported that one soldier had died and another had been injured in an attack by Kurdish militias in northern Syria.

The Turkish Ministry of National Defence said the attack took place in the northern area of Tal Abiad.

In the statement, Turkey denounced that the “terrorists” of the Kurdish-led People’s Protection Units (YPG) had violated the ceasefire 20 times and said that despite this the Turkish Army was fully respecting the agreement.

Turkey has reported the violations to the US, which, until its recent withdrawal from Syria, had supported YPG forces in its fight against the Islamic State (IS) terror organization.

Turkish forces launched the offensive on the northern Syrian border on October 9 after the US announced the withdrawal of its remaining troops from the war-torn region.

There are several reasons behind the Turkish attack, the first one being that Ankara wants to create what it calls a safe-zone that would extend some 32 km into northern Syria, a predominantly Turkish area.

Erdogan has said he would use the safe-zone to establish an area to re-house some 4 million Syrian refugees.

The agreement between Ankara and Washington gave the YPG 120 hours, until October 22, to clear the 30 km area on the Turkish-Syrian border to establish the safe zone.