Over the past two years, the town of Tal Rifaat, 35 km north of Aleppo, has been subjected to repeated artillery bombardment by the Turkish military and its affiliated armed groups, stationed in the towns of Marea and Azaz and in Maryamin base, causing constant fears among the displaced families.
The Turkish military and its affiliated armed groups frequently target Afrin IDPs who reside in Tal Rifaat, despite the presence of three Russian military points in the area.
Rezan Ahmed, a displaced person from Afrin residing in Tal Rifaat, said that the town receives the largest share of shells in conjunction with any military operations launched in other areas of Syria, referring to the recent military operation launched by the Syrian government forces in Idlib and western Aleppo countryside, and the Russian-Turkish dispute over the fate of that region.
The Turkish military and its affiliated armed groups took control over Afrin on March 18, 2018 after battles lasted for about two months against the local forces of People’s Protection Units YPG.
On May 27, 2019, the Russian forces brought reinforcements to Tal Rifaat, which included soldiers, heavy machinery, logistical and military equipment, but one of its points was bombed by the armed groups on February 4 last year.
Ahmad Keffo, the father of the child Imad Keffo, who was killed by the Turkish bombing that targeted Tal Rifaat on the second of last December and his other son Muhammad was injured, Keffo asked about the purpose of targeting the children, “What is the guilt of the children so they are targeted? And what does Erdogan want by killing the children?" He added: "We do not know where to resort as the shells target us permanently."
On January 29, the Turkish forces targeted Tal Rifaat with a mortar shelling that killed the 7-year-old child, Nader Ahmed Aboud, and wounded the 9-year-old child, Muhammad Haj Issa.
The number of casualties of the massacre committed by the Turkish-backed groups in the second of last December reached 10 people, including 8 children and 13 others were wounded, in addition to panic state caused by the bombing among the civilians.
Zahr al-Din Muhammad, a displaced person from Afrin said: "The children cannot sleep because of the heavy shelling," noting that the town suffers from difficult living conditions.
About 15,700 IDPs from Afrin reside in Tal Rifaat, in addition to 500 families of the town’s indigenous people, according to the statistics of Local Council of Tal Rifaat.
Suzan Mohamed, an administrator at Tal Rifaat Council confirmed to North-Press that the repeated shelling on Tal Rifaat during the past two years has killed 13 people, most of them children, in addition to 23 others were injured, some of them have lost parts of their body.
The Syrian government forces lost control over Tal Rifaat in early 2012 to fall under the control of the armed opposition groups, until it was taken over by the Islamic State (ISIS) in late 2013.
On 14 February 2016, Jabhat al-Akrad (one of the factions of the Syrian Democratic Forces) managed to control Tal Rifaat and Menagh Military Airport with the support of the Russian aircraft, while Syrian government forces entered the area on February 23, 2018.