Pro-Ankara fighters taking part in a Turkish offensive on Kurdish-held border towns in northeastern Syria “executed” at least nine civilians including a female politician on Saturday, a monitor said.
“The nine civilians were executed at different moments south of the town of Tal Abyad,” the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
The Kurds said a Kurdish political leader Hevrin Khalaf and her driver were among those killed.
Khalaf, 35, was “taken out of her car during a Turkish-backed attack and executed by Turkish-backed mercenary factions,” the political arm of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) said in a statement.
“This is a clear evidence that the Turkish state is continuing its criminal policy towards unarmed civilians,” it added.
Khalaf was the secretary-general of the Future Syria Party.
Mutlu Civiroglu, a specialist in Kurdish politics, described her death as a “great loss.”
“She had a talent for diplomacy, she used to always take part in meetings with the Americans, the French, the foreign delegations.”
Turkey and its allied fighters began the offensive on Wednesday to push back the Kurdish Peoples’ Protection Units (YPG), the backbone of the SDF, from its border.
The allied fighters are Syrian former rebels who once fought against President Bashar Assad’s regime.
But the conflict has morphed since erupting in 2011, and these factions now receive training and funding from Ankara.