Turkish troops and Syrian opposition fighters allied with Ankara marched into Afrin, nearly two months after Turkey began its offensive on the enclave. Turkey considers the Syrian Kurdish militia in Afrin a “terrorist” group and an extension of its own Kurdish insurgency within Turkey.
Turkish forces and Free Syrian Army group capture Afrin city. Turkish armed forces and President Erdogan announce that Turkish flag hoisted in the centre of the Syrian city of Afrin.
Turkish shelling and airstrikes on the northern Syrian Kurdish town of Afrin killed at least 20 civilians on Friday, Kurdish officials said, as the Turkish military urged residents of the town to leave and the Syrian Kurdish militiamen to surrender to besieging Turkish forces.
Afrin city lies in the heart of a Kurdish-majority enclave in northern Syria which neighbouring Turkey sees as a threat and against which it launched a deadly ground and air offensive on January 20. READ MORE.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Monday: “If the regime is entering there to cleanse the PKK and PYD, then there are no problems”. The PKK is the Kurdish group mounting an insurgency in Turkey. The PYD is an influential Syrian Kurdish political party.
Turkey has warned that its operation in Afrin could expand to the nearby Syrian city of Manbij. Meanwhile, the General Directorate for Antiquities and Museums at the Ministry of Culture condemned “the Turkish aggression on archaeological sites in Afrin.”
“We call on the Syrian state to carry out its sovereign obligations towards Afrin and protect its borders with Turkey from attacks of the Turkish occupier … and deploy its Syrian armed forces to secure the borders of the Afrin area,” they said in a statement Thursday.
“The whole world knows Daesh (Islamic State) is not present in Afrin,” Redur Xelil, a senior SDF official, told Reuters. He said the Turkish military had greatly exaggerated SDF casualties, though he declined to say how many had been killed.
“In the Afrin area, we had actually gotten to the point where humanitarian aid was flowing, refugees were coming back in … The Turkish incursion disrupts that effort,” U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said.
The bombing raids targeted the Syrian-Kurdish YPG militia, a senior Turkish official said. A Turkey-backed rebel group in Syria, the Free Syrian Army, was also providing assistance to the Turkish military’s operation in Afrin, the official added.