Turkish army says 153 terror targets hit in Afrin op

22 January, 2018, 02:29 | Author: Chad Mckenzie
  • A Turkish military convoy arrives at an army base in the border town of Reyhanli near the Turkish Syrian border in Hatay province Turkey on Jan. 17

But the campaign risks further increasing tensions with Turkey's North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ally the United States - which has supported the YPG in the fight against Islamic State jihadists - and also needs at least the tacit support of Russian Federation to succeed.

A Turkish Government source explained to this newspaper that " necessary measures have been taken to avoid civilian casualties" and that Red Crescent has established camps to welcome population fleeing Afrin in population of Azaz, located in Syrian territory.

Kurdish rockets meanwhile hit the Turkish border town of Kilis overnight, and there were reports of at least one fatality in another border town, Reyhanli.

The armed forces said that all of the dead and wounded brought to hospitals are Kurdish militia members.

Afrin is controlled by US-backed Kurdish militias that Turkey describes as "terrorists". The United States has backed the YPG in its fight against Islamic State in Syria. The terror group has also used Amanos Mountains to penetrate from Syria into Turkey.

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Turkey's military has been shelling the Afrin region since Thursday, a move which it said was in response to fire coming from the area.

Turkish security forces retaliated in kind, it said. But the Syrian regime, which is at odds with Turkey, strongly denied this, denouncing the operation as a "brutal Turkish aggression".

Turkish land forces will carry out the "necessary activities" into Syria's Afrin province on Sunday depending on developments in the region, Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said on Saturday.

The operation also includes airstrikes on the district, threatening to create another humanitarian disaster in the region. Russian Federation pulled back troops that had been deployed near Afrin after it was briefed on the operation by Turkey. They said they refused the proposal.

Turkish officials said the troops entered the Afrin area a day after Turkish jets pounded targets there in an attempt to drive US-allied Kurdish militia from the area.

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France has asked Turkey to act with restraint in Syria, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said on Sunday after speaking by phone with his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu.

Meanwhile Russian Chief of Staff Valery Gerasimov has spoken on the phone with his USA counterpart General Joseph Dunford following Turkey's military engagements in Syria, Sputnik reported.

It was the second Turkish town to come under attack.

Turkey's state-run Anadolu news agency reported Friday afternoon that Russian military personnel in the Afrin area were withdrawing from their positions but Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov later issued a strong denial. Turkey accuses the YPG of being "terrorists" despite the YPG's long track record of setting up local democratic governing councils in each of the towns it has liberated from ISIS and its repeated statements that it has no interest in Turkey and wishes to function only as a defense force for Syrian Kurds and other ethnicities living in the Democratic Federation of Northern Syria (DFNS), also known as "Rojava", which includes Afrin.

A Kurdish official confirmed the strikes saying they were the first by the Turkish military on the city, in what it has named operation "Olive Branch". Bali said the SDF sent reinforcements to Afrin. It said the Turkey-backed forces entered Shinkal and Adah Manli to the west.

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