The Turkish military and Turkish affiliated armed groups on 20 January 2018 launched “Operation Olive Branch” against the People’s Defense Units’ (YPG) held enclave of Afrin (Efrin) in northern Syria.
The People’s Defense Units (YPG) had taken control of Afrin and other areas of the North East of Syria in 2012 after the Syrian government withdrew to fight mercenaries and jihadist factions in other parts of the country, as well as to counter Turkish state sponsored support for certain jihadist factions.
The Turkish state, which considers the YPG to be linked to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which it has been in conflict with over decades, set up a military post in Afrin on 20 January 2018 along with Turkish affiliated armed groups.
Turkey was reported to have bombed the villages and towns of Afrin with warplanes and helicopters. All of the seven members of the El Xatir family – who migrated to the Mabata district of Afrin after they had to flee Idlib due to the attacks by mercenaries in the town – were killed in an air strike which reportedly bombed their home in Afrin at 3 am on 26 January 2018. The dead bodies of the family remained under the wreckage of their home for hours after the attack.
Footage captured by the Hawar News Agency of the home of the El Xatir family after it was hit by the airstrike by Turkish warplanes has emerged. The seven members of the El Xatir family who were reportedly killed in the air strike were Taha Mustefa El Xatir (45), Emîna El Xatir (40), Silêman El Xatir (14), Mustefa El Xatir (17), Yusra El Xatir (9) and Zekiya El Xatir (15).