Turkey’s Syria operation damages ancient temple in Afrin

An ancient temple has seriously been damaged in Syria’s northwestern city of Afrin, where Turkey is leading an operation against US-backed Kurdish militants.

The so-called Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the Iron Age Ain Dara Temple was exposed to Turkish shelling.

The shelling had caused significant damage but no casualties, the UK-based monitoring group added. Pictures circulating online also showed damage to the site.

Meanwhile, the General Directorate for Antiquities and Museums at the Ministry of Culture condemned “the Turkish aggression on archaeological sites in Afrin.”

In a statement carried by Syria’s official SANA news agnecy, the directorate further called for international pressure on Turkey “to prevent the targeting of archaeological and cultural sites  in Afrin area, which is one of the richest areas in antiquities and cultural heritage in Syria.”

The statement said the attack “reflects the extent of hatred, malevolence and the barbarism of the Turkish regime against the Syrian identity and against the past of the Syrian people and their present and future.”

Turkey launched the so-called Operation Olive Branch in Afrin last week in a bid to eliminate the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), which Ankara views as a terror organization and the Syrian branch of the outlawed Kurdish Workers Party (PKK).

Turkey has warned that its operation in Afrin could expand to the nearby Syrian city of Manbij.

The US military, however, has called on Turkey to halt its military action against Kurdish militants and focus on combating Daesh terrorists.

Speaking on Saturday, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said US military forces need to immediately withdraw from Manbij. He alos noted that Ankara wanted to see concrete steps by Washington to end its support for the Syrian Kurdish force.

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