SYRIA: Turkish occupation forces kill 13-year-old with artillery fire, draw condemnation from U.S. Syria envoy Jeffrey

AYN ISSA, Syria — In a statement posted by the U.S. Embassy in Damascus on its official Twitter account on Saturday, U.S. Special Envoy to Syria James Jeffrey condemned the killing of a Syrian child on Friday, near Ayn Issa due to Turkish shelling.

On Friday, Turkish forces and their Syrian National Army (SNA) proxies targeted Ayn Issa and the nearby camp for displaced persons with rocket and artillery fire, fatally injuring the 13-year-old Hatem Hazem. Hazem was taken to a hospital in nearby Raqqa where he died of his injuries.

“This tragic incident demonstrates the continuing threat to civilians as a result of the escalation in the region,” Jeffrey said, adding that the United States reiterates its strong support for the call of U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres for an immediate ceasefire in Syria.

Jeffrey stressed that the escalation hinders a political solution, and that the U.S. supports the efforts of the U.N. Special Envoy to Syria Geir Pedersen to facilitate a political solution for the country in line with U.N.  Security Council Resolution 2254.

Jeffrey also noted that a political solution is the only credible way to achieve the peace that the Syrian people deserve.

Jeffrey has developed a negative reputation among many in North and East Syria following the Turkish-led invasion of the region in October 2019 after he had assured the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) that the U.S. would prevent a Turkish invasion.

“Not only did he keep the SDF leadership in the dark, but he persuaded them to dismantle their defense structure and remove their heavy weapons from the border before Turkey’s invasion,” said Herêm Kerîm, a Kurdish analyst, to Ahval in November 2019.

Kerîm also noted that, intentionally or unintentionally, Jeffery had “failed to communicate what the Turks were planning and that makes him appear complicit … This policy of blunder and betrayal of the Kurds will make it very difficult for the Americans to find partners in the future.”

Turkish occupation forces have conducted near daily shelling of military and civilian areas just outside their control in Tel Abyad, Rish Ayno (Ras al-Ayn), Ayn Issa, Shahba, and Mabbug (Manbij) in a clear violation of ceasefire agreements signed with the U.S. and Russia.

According to researcher Amy Austin Holmes, Turkey and the SNA have violated the ceasefire agreement signed in late October 2019 over 800 times.