The governor of the neighboring blue province of Hatay says a mass grave has been found with 61 bodies in the Afrin area held by Ankara.
Turkey said Thursday it had discovered a mass grave containing dozens of bodies in a Turkish region of northern Syria, accusing a group of Kurdish fighters backed by the US of the killings.
Turkey and its Syrian proxies have taken control of the territory in Syria since 2016 in military operations against ISIL (ISIS) and the Kurdish group YPG.
The governor of the Turkish province of Hatay on the border with Syria told reporters that a mass grave was found with 61 bodies in the Afrin area.
“This is a crime against humanity,” Rahmi Dogan said, blaming YPG, which is backed by Washington.
“I think the number of recovered bodies will increase,” he added, after the Turkish defense minister initially set the number at 35 on Wednesday.
Images from Turkish television show officials in hazmat clothes surrounded by what appeared to be bodies in bags.
Dogan said Turkish authorities believe the dead were civilians executed by the YPG days before Turkey launched its call. Operation of the olive branch in 2018 to capture Afrin.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had said at the time that the operation in Afrin would be followed by a push in the northern city of Manbij, which U.S.-backed Kurdish forces had taken from ISIL in the 2016.
AFP has not been able to independently verify the claims.
The YPG has not yet commented on the allegations.
Turkey accuses the YPG – a force backed by the Western military against ISIL – of being a “terrorist” of the Kurdistan Workers ’Party (PKK).
Turkey has been fighting for decades in armed Kurdish fighters in the southeastern part of the country. Among these groups that Ankara struggled with was the Kurdistan Workers ’Party, or PKK, which had separatist roots, and then pushed for more autonomy from the Turkish central government.
The violence has left 40,000 civilians, soldiers and armed fighters dead, costing the country hundreds of billions of dollars.
Turkey along with the European Union and the United States consider the PKK a “terrorist organization”.