Turkey, Free Syrian Army take complete control of Afrin: Erdoğan

Marsha Scott
March 19, 2018

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in a speech the flags of Turkey and its Free Syrian Army allies had been raised in the center of Afrin as the "terrorists have fled".

"Our special forces and members of the Free Syrian Army are cleaning the remains and the traps they left behind".

More than 40 political parties, associations and unions issued the statement just hours after the Turkish army and its Syrian rebel allies swept into Afrin, driving out Kurdish YPG fighters following an eight-week air and ground offensive.

Ankara says Syrian Kurdish YPG fighters are an extension of a militant group waging an insurgency inside Turkey, and vowed to crush what it described as a "terror corridor" of YPG-controlled territory along Turkey's southern border with Syria.

This effectively caps off the invasion of the Afrin District, as Turkey had seized other major population centers in the district already.

Turkey has threatened to extend its offensive to another Kurdish-controlled region further east, where United States forces are stationed alongside the YPG, Washington's ally against Isis in Syria.

Turkish troops go door to door distributing aid to Afrin residents

For the past two months, Turkey and its own favored Syrian rebels clashed with Kurdish rebels in the Syrian-Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG).

"This is a gift for those who were martyred on March 18", said a Turkish soldier as he waved the national flag in the video.

Turkey says it killed or wounded more than 3,500 YPG militants in the battle for the town.

Almost 200,000 people have fled the Afrin region in recent days amid heavy air strikes, entering Syrian government-held territory nearby, the Syrian Observatory said.

The statement also called on Kurdish people preparing to celebrate the spring festival of Newroz in Turkey this week to rally "in the spirit of resistance" and in solidarity with the people of the mainly Kurdish town. The Kurds are the largest stateless ethnic group in the Middle East, with some 30 million living in an area split between Iran, Iraq, Turkey and Syria. A war monitor, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said pockets of YPG militants were defying orders to withdraw, but Turkish forces were in control.

The Turkish military denied the allegations.

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Other reports by MaliBehiribAe

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