The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces accused Turkey-backed fighters of killing a Kurdish politician in an ambush on a road in northern Syria on Saturday, drawing a denial from a Turkey-backed force which said it had not advanced that far.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based organization which reports on the war, said Turkey-backed groups had killed a total of nine civilians on the road, including Hervin Khalaf, secretary general of the Future Syria Party.
Khalaf had been returning from a meeting in Hasakah at the time of the attack in which her driver and an aide were also killed, said Hussein Omar, the Future Syria Party’s coordinator in Europe. Party officials including Khalaf have had contacts with U.S. officials since it was founded in 2018, he said.
Asked about the accusation that Turkey-backed groups had killed Khalaf, the spokesman for the Turkey-backed National Army, which groups Syrian rebel factions, said they had not made it as far as the highway known as the M4.
“I confirm to you that our forces have not reached the M4,” Youssef Hammoud said in a voice message to Reuters, saying that they had instead reached a road closer to the border.
Asked about the Observatory report that rebels had killed a total of nine civilians on the road, he gave the same answer.
Turkey and its Syrian rebel allies launched an offensive into SDF-held parts of northeastern Syria on Wednesday.
The SDF, in a statement, said Khalaf’s killing on the highway between Aleppo and Hasaka showed “the Turkish invasion does not differentiate between a soldier, a civilian or a politician.” The SDF statement identified her as party co-chair.
A map sent by an SDF official showed the location of the incident on the M4 highway southeast of Tel Abyad.
The SDF had earlier reported that a group of “mercenaries of the Turkish army” had killed a number of civilians on the road after infiltrating the area, without identifying them.
SDF says Turkey-backed fighters killed Kurdish politician