Turkey Warns Syrian Regime against Protecting Kurds in Afrin

Marsha Scott
February 20, 2018

A United States announcement that it would build a 30,000-strong border force to patrol Syria's frontiers that included the YPG alarmed Ankara and led to the military campaign, dubbed "Operation Olive Branch" by the Turkish government.

While President Bashar al-Assad's government and the YPG espouse utterly different visions for Syria's future and their forces have clashed at times, they have mostly avoided direct conflict during the war and see common cause in combating the Turkish military and allied rebel groups.

On Monday morning, Syrian state media had said the pro-government militia would enter Afrin "within hours" - although the forces never materialised.

Erdogan's remarks come a day after the foreign minister declared that Turkey would battle Syrian regime troops if they enter the region of Afrin to protect Syrian Kurdish fighters.

Meanwhile, state-run Anadolu Agency said that Pro-Syrian government forces retreated about 10 km away from city before reaching Syria's Afrin after Turkish Artillery fire.

SANA said the planned deployment followed an agreement between the Syrian government and the YPG.

However, this information has been refuted by a YPG representative in Afrin Brusk Haseke, who had called them false and fake news in his interview to Sputnik, saying that the Syrian government forces would not enter Afrin.

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Turkey says the YPG is linked to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which has been waging an insurgency against the Turkish state since 1984.

"The army will deploy in several border areas, in coordination with the People's Protection Units and the Syrian Democratic Forces", said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to reveal details of the agreement. The PYD is an influential Syrian Kurdish political party.

Operation Olive Branch in Afrin region is Turkey's second major military intervention in Syria during the unprecedented foreign-backed militancy that broke out in 2011.

Turkey's military incursion into Syria has further strained ties with fellow North Atlantic Treaty Organisation member the usa, with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson saying last week that the relationship with Turkey had reached a "critical point".

After US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's visit to Ankara last week, the two sides agreed to work together in Syria and set up working groups to address issues including Manbij where there are US military forces, which Tillerson said was a "priority".

The targeted suburbs, known as eastern Ghouta, have been subjected to weeks-long bombardment that has killed and wounded hundreds of people.

Elsewhere in Syria, government shelling of the rebel-held eastern suburbs of Damascus killed at least 30 people, according to opposition activists and paramedics.

Other reports by MaliBehiribAe

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