Kurdish authorities in northeast Syria issued a statement calling for a humanitarian corridor to evacuate civilians from a flashpoint border town encircled by Ankara’s forces.
The appeal for a civilian exit from Ras al-Ain came after Turkey’s Syrian proxies hit a health facility in the town, trapping patients and staff inside, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
“It is the first real advance of the Turkish forces inside the city, following fierce resistance by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF),” SOHR said.
The monitor said the extent of damage in the facility was not yet clear.
The Kurdish administration appealed to allow civilians to exit the town that Turkey aims to capture, calling for “urgent intervention to open a safe humanitarian corridor to evacuate dead and wounded civilians trapped in Ras al-Ain.”
Violent clashes raged inside the town, as Turkey’s offensive enters its ninth day, according to the Observatory and Syrian rebel fighters.
“The battles are at their most intense,” said Abu Imran al-Homsi, a commander fighting alongside Ankara’s forces.
“We have surrounded (Ras al-Ain) from all sides and cut off supply lines,” another rebel commander told AFP.
“More than 300,000 civilians have been displaced since the start of the offensive,” Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the Observatory said.
The increasing number of people forced to flee was due to a fresh wave of displacement over the past few days from areas around Tal Abyad and Kobane and in Hasakeh province, he added.
Most displaced people tried to move in with relatives in safer areas, although some were sleeping rough in orchards, and others were in some of the 40 schools that have been turned into emergency shelters, Abdel Rahman said.