At least one civilian was killed and others were injured in alleged Syrian Democratic Forces or Russian airstrikes on agricultural lands in the outskirts of Afrin on June 12, 2021.
According to Macro Media Center, “a civilian was killed and others were wounded as a result of the bombing of the PYD PKK gangs with missiles on the city of Afrin”. Shaam News also reported that one civilian was killed in the incident.
A tweet from @rahhalahmad06 gave information on one of the victims: “the death of the anesthesiologist, Amin Qusho, as a result of the heinous crime that affected Al-Shifa Hospital in Afrin.” A Facebook post by Munzur.Şêxo added that Qusho was actually killed in his home near the Maarat roundabout in the center of Afrin city, meaning that he was killed in the first round of shelling.
In audio messages to Syrian Archive, a journalist and a witness of the shelling said, “The first bombing was at 18:03 on farm lands and civilians homes.” According to this same journalist, among those killed was Ghaith Abbas, a fighter from the city of Homs. Additionally, the journalist claimed that two other fighters were wounded in the attack.
Syrian Archive provided additional details on this incident, which was the first of two shelling barrages that occurred on June 12th (the second is documented in R4317 IRS009 YS106): “videos posted online show the first barrage of rockets on Afrin and rising smoke plumes from at least five areas at the end of the street nearest the political security branch in Afrin, around 200 meters away from the hospital.” According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, the first shelling hit the Maaratah road and new highway in Afrin, in addition to farm lands near the hospital, between 18:03-18:10. After reviewing images and videos, Syrian Archive determined that the first attack occurred near a restaurant named Tayyibah around 200 meters from Al Shifa Hospital and on farm lands along Al Mazout Road, just west of the hospital.
Nurse Samir Aghwani, one of the staff members at Al Shifa, told Syrian Archive “While working, I heard several consecutive rockets and explosions at 18:05 on Saturday, June 12. I immediately went to the emergency room after a call came about injuries in the Al Filat and Al Siyasiya streets. Ambulances began transporting those injured to Al Shifa Hospital, which was closest to the attack. While we applied first aid and a number of doctors entered the operating room to conduct surgeries, and about an hour after the first bombing, the hospital was targeted by two missiles. One of them fell in the emergency room where I was. The second fell in the middle of the hospital. I froze as horrific scenes passed in front of me before I regained my senses and opened my phone. I documented what had happened and then went to treat the injured. The place was filling with blood and corpses, and my colleagues, the Civil Defense teams, and I treated the wounded.”
Naim Al Qasim, director of the Civil Defense Center in Afrin, said in an interview with the Syrian Archive team that, “At 18:05 Afrin was hit by rockets. The shelling concentrated around the vicinity of the Ibn Sina Hospital and Al Shifa Hospital, hitting civilian homes. The Civil Defense went to the location hit. The results of the shelling was one killed and four wounded. Other than a patient who was sent to Afrin Hospital, we transported the wounded to Al-Shifa Hospital. When the vehicles returned at around 19:00, the city was hit by a second attack. Among the locations hit in this attack was Al-Shifa Hospital. The Civil Defense paramedics present at the hospital were injured as well as some of the hospital staff in addition to civilians. They were treated and taken from the hospital. The initial outcome was around 15 dead and 43 injured, in addition to severe damage to the hospital and residential buildings as well to equipment belonging to the Civil Defense.”
Mohammed Al Youssef, an ambulance driver, told the Syrian Archive team, “We received an emergency response call at 18:05 of civilian casualties on Al Siyasiya street, near Al Filat, from rocket fire. We immediately went there and were the first teams to arrive. The moment we arrived there was a high number of those injured. So, we transported two cases to the hospital and came back to evacuate more of the injured. Here was when the paramedics and Civil Defense teams arrived. After we transported another injured individual, we headed towards Al Shifa Hospital, as it was close to the area shelled, to provide first aid to the injured and to try and rescue them. We stayed in the hospital, ready for any emergency that may happen. There was huge crowd in the hospital, including civilians, injured people, and their families. We stayed in the ambulance because there were patients with critical injuries that required transportation to Turkish territories. An hour after the first bombing, a second attack happened and here the horrific massacre occurred. The missiles directly hit the hospital, the number of people was very large. The nurse that was with my ambulance was inside the emergency room in the hospital and I was outside the hospital. The rising smoke, shrapnel, and the sounds I began to hear sounded as if it was Youm Al Qiyamah. Most of the people present were killed or injured. We managed the situation and tried to rescue the injured and pull them out of the rubble. What I saw was very difficult. I saw a child in a wheelchair who died in the bombing, women, children, and young people, and ambulance teams and nurses and doctors. While working as an ambulance driver for two years now, these were the toughest moments I ever experienced.”
Ahmed Al Ibrahim, a volunteer in the Civil Defense who was wounded by the shelling, told the Syrian Archive team that the first attack was around six o’clock in the evening. He accompanied two of his colleagues, Ismail Naasan, division commander, and Zaher Hamsho, driver, in transferring the injured to Al Shifa Hospital and then Afrin Central Hospital. When they returned to Al Shifa Hospital, rockets hit the facility and he and his colleagues were injured.
In a recording sent to Syrian Archive, Abu Taym Al Halabi, a media activist who lives in Afrin and about 50 meters away from the hospital, said that seven to eight rockets hit the town in the first attack. He told Syrian Archive he inspected the impact site, determining that rockets fell between civilian homes and on farm land on Al Filat street. He said he photographed those injured at the site.
The majority of sources attributed the strikes to the SDF and PKK. However, Mazloum Abadi, the head of the SDF, issued a statement: “We strongly condemn the bombing by the Russian forces of the city of Afrin, which is overcrowded with civilians.” Various other sources attributed the shelling to Russian forces and/or Iranian forces.
The incident occured between 6:03 pm and 6:10 pm local time.