Turkish president voices hope for Afrin operation in Syria to end soon

Marsha Scott
January 22, 2018

Around 25,000 Free Syrian Army rebels are taking part in the operation with the goal of recapturing Arab towns and villages seized by the YPG nearly two years ago, a rebel commander said.

Le Drian also said that France condemned indiscriminate bombing by the Syrian regime in Idlib province and asked for the immediate access of humanitarian aid to eastern Ghouta, where 400,000 citizens are in a critical situation.

Turkey has been particularly outraged by an announcement that the USA planned to train 30,000 personnel in parts of northeast Syria under the control of the YPG-led Syrian Democratic Forces. "Especially the young people of northern Syria, and the youth of Afrin, should join the YPG ranks and defend Afrin against the fascist and barbaric Turkish state".

The YPG is a key USA ally in the war against the Islamic State group.

US support for the Kurdish militia has been a cause of perpetual conflict between Ankara and Washington, which has backed the Kurdish militia. The offensive against the United States proxy exacerbates strains that have tested Turkey's relations with Washington in recent years.

The call came a day after Turkey launched the "Operation Olive Branch" offensive.

"Erdogan is working hard to muster solid majorities in time for the very important Turkish elections of 2019", he said.

The YPG also accused Russian Federation, which, according to the BBC, has evacuated its troops from Afrin province, of being as much responsible for the invasion as Turkey, adding that multiple civilians and YPG fighters have already been killed. Russian Federation pulled back troops that had been deployed near Afrin after it was briefed on the operation by Turkey.

He said Turkish aircraft have continued to strike Afrin.

A US State Department official on Friday said military intervention by Turkey in Syria would undermine regional stability and would not help protect Turkey's border security.

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Turkish forces and their Syrian allies on Sunday pressed a cross border offensive against a Kurdish militia for a second day, as rocket fire hit a border town in apparent retaliation.

It was not immediately possible to reach Russian officials.

Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said troops crossed into the YPG-controlled region in Syria at 08:05 GMT, the Dogan news agency reported.

AFP correspondents in the area around the Turkish border town of Reyhanli in Hatay province saw several more Turkish military vehicles heading south to the border.

Thousands rallied against the attacks in the border town of Amuda in northwest Syria.

Plumes of smoke rise on the air from inside Syria, as seen from the outskirts of the border town of Kilis, Turkey, Saturday, Jan. 20, 2018.

In a statement, the Syrian opposition fighters battling alongside the Turkish troops said the combined force seized Shinkal, a village on the northwestern edge of Afrin district.

But the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces - of which the YPG is a major component - accused Turkey on Saturday of using cross-border shelling as a false pretext to launch an offensive in Syria.

SDF spokesman Mustafa Bali denied that Turkish troops had entered Afrin, saying Kurdish forces have been repelling attacks since Saturday. It said measures have been taken to ensure the safety of its servicemen in Afrin, and some troops have been relocated. Seventy-two planes taking part in the operation returned to base safely, it said.

The mainly Arab rebels accuse the Syrian Kurdish militia of forcibly displacing Arabs from the villages in what they say is a deliberate policy of ethnic cleansing.

Other reports by MaliBehiribAe

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