Turkey's Afrin offensive in Syria has displaced 150,000, Kurdish official says

More than 150,000 people have been displaced in the last few days from Syria's Afrin town, a senior Kurdish official and a monitoring group said on Saturday.

Turkish warplanes, artillery strike region overnight

Turkish-backed Syrian rebels enter the village of Qastal Koshk, north of Afrin, on Friday, following battles between Turkish-backed forces and Kurdish fighters. (Nazeer al-Khatib/AFP/Getty Images)

More than 150,000 people have been displaced in the last few days from Syria's Afrin town, a senior Kurdish official and a monitoring group said on Saturday.

Hevi Mustafa, a top member of the civil authority governing the Afrin region, said people were fleeing the main town to other Kurdish-held parts of the region and to government territory.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a U.K.-based war monitor, said Turkish warplanes and artillery struck the town overnight, and at least 150,000 had fled since Wednesday.

Turkey's military launched its cross-border operation on Jan. 20 in a bid to force the Syrian Kurdish militia from the northern enclave of Afrin. Ankara considers the Syrian Kurdish People's Protection Units, or YPG, an extension of the outlawed Kurdish rebels who have launched several attacks inside Turkey.

Several hundred people, including civilians, have been killed during the military operation.

Thousands flee eastern Ghouta

In a separate exodus in Syria, a new wave of at least 10,000 people fled the rebel enclave of eastern Ghouta near the capital Damascus on Saturday.

Rescuers said airstrikes continued to pound the besieged zone.

The Russian military says more than 30,000 people have fled Syria's besieged region of eastern Ghouta since the Syrian army began its offensive Feb. 18.

Maj. Gen. Vladimir Zolotukhin was quoted Saturday by Russian news agencies as saying the civilians were leaving through a government-run humanitarian corridor monitored by the Russian military.

Syrian opposition activists are reporting that dozens of people were killed and scores wounded in the region on Saturday.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 30 people were killed in Zamalka by an airstrike on people who were trying to flee into government-controlled
areas.

Troops capture major eastern Ghouta town

Syrian opposition activists say government forces have captured a major town east of the capital Damascus and taken parts of another.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and Oways al-Shami of the Syrian Civil Defence on Saturday said troops have taken Kafr Batna and large parts of nearby Saqba.

The capture of the towns are a major blow to the rebels since they were among their largest strongholds in the area.

With files from The Associated Press