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Turkish-led assault on Syria's Afrin displaces 30,000 civilians in one day

On 20 January, Turkey launched a major ground and air offensive on the Afrin enclave, with the support of Syrian Arab rebel proxies

A Turkish-backed fighter patrols a section of the front line in the enclave of Afrin (Reuters)

A Turkish-led offensive to capture the Kurdish-majority enclave of Afrin in northern Syria has forced 30,000 civilians from its main city in 24 hours, a monitor said Thursday.

"More than 30,000 people were displaced since yesterday (Wednesday) as a result of Turkish bombardment against the city," the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

"They went to areas controlled by the Syrian regime and to the outskirts of the city" under the control of Kurdish militia, the monitoring group said.

According to the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia, the number of people who have fled their homes since yesterday as a result of the Turkish bombardment is about 10,000 people.

“The air strikes and artillery shelling have not calmed down,” said Birusk Hasaka, the YPG spokesman in Afrin.

They went to areas controlled by the Syrian regime and to the outskirts of the city"

- Syrian Observatory for Human Rights

“A number of civilians have been displaced, and they are around 10,000 people.”

On 20 January, Turkey launched a major ground and air offensive on the Afrin enclave, with the support of Syrian Arab rebel proxies.

It claims to have now almost completely encircled the region's main city of Afrin.

An AFP correspondent inside the city saw hundreds of families cramming into the back of pick-up trucks and onto tractor-drawn carts as they prepared to leave the city via the only remaining exit.

Those who stayed behind formed long queues outside shops to buy bread and various food goods in preparation for a fully fledged siege by Turkish and allied forces.

Afrin is one of the cantons in the self-proclaimed Kurdish autonomous administration in northern Syria and Ankara is worried by the consolidation along its border of a de facto statelet ruled by a group it considers a terrorist organisation.