Soldiers with the Syrian Democratic Forces spilled out of a house on the edge of an abandoned village northeast of the city center. One of them, speaking into his walkie-talkie, held up his hand to stop our car. The driver, an SDF escort, put it in park and rolled down his window. “He says it’s not safe,” the driver told us. “Turkish drones. The sky is full of drones.”
In May, Turkey’s President Recep Erdogan announced plans to invade the northern Syrian cities Manbij and Tal Rifaat to establish a 30-kilometer “security zone” between the two countries. In the first half of 2022, 47 Turkish drone strikes in the region killed 16 and wounded 55, according to the Rojava Information Center. Villages have been shelled near daily.