Syrian Kurdish official: Thousands fleeing Afrin

BEIRUT (AP) — A Syrian Kurdish official says thousands of people are fleeing the northern town of Afrin as Turkish troops and Turkey-backed opposition fighters get closer to the besieged Syrian town.

Ebrahim Ebrahim, a Europe-based spokesman for the largest Kurdish group in Syria, the Democratic Union Party, or PYD, says those fleeing are heading toward government-controlled areas.

He said on Monday that people are fleeing out of fear that Turkish troops and Turkey-backed Syrian opposition fighters might commit atrocities against the Kurds and minorities in the town.

Ebrahim described Turkey-backed fighters as “extremist groups.”

He says Turkish troops have destroyed water and power stations that supply the town of Afrin, making it difficult for people to stay.

Ebrahim blamed Russia and Turkey for what he called “war crimes that are being committed in Afrin.”

Turkey’s Hurriyet newspaper reported that civilians are leaving the town of Afrin, heading to government-controlled areas and the town of Manbij, which is held by the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces.