Turkey Forces Encircle Kurdish-Controlled Centre Of Afrin

Turkey Forces Encircle Kurdish-Controlled Centre Of Afrin

Turkey Forces Encircle Kurdish-Controlled Centre Of Afrin

Turkish forces have besieged the northern Syrian city of Afrin as part of 'Operation Olive Branch.' Turkey's president said they're ready to enter 'at any moment'. "I hope that Afrin will, God willing, have completely fallen by the evening", Mr Erdogan said in the speech.

Turkey launched a military offensive into the border enclave on January 20 to drive out Syrian Kurdish forces that it considers to be "terrorists" and an extension of Kurdish rebels fighting inside Turkey.

"It sounds like Erdogan is daydreaming when he says Afrin will fall tonight", Redur Xelil, the spokesman of the US-backed forces, said on Wednesday.

Erdogan has repeatedly said that after taking Afrin, Turkey's offensive would expand to key border towns controlled by the YPG right up to the Iraqi frontier. The US says it has no connection to YPG in Afrin, despite using its troops as its main ground force in the war against Islamic State in Syria.

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Yesterday, Reuters reported that a top Syrian Kurdish official has accused Turkey of settling Turkmen and Arab families in villages seized in the Turkish army's campaign in the Kurdish-dominated Afrin region.

Turkey's so-called "Olive Branch" operation on its 54th day, Erdogan added, succeeded in taking 1,300 square kilometers of territory from Kurdish fighters "neutralizing" (killing, wounding or capturing) "nearly 3,500 terrorists".

Russian Federation has taken this as a sign that the USA was planning to attack Syrian military forces as it did in April, following charges that the Syrian airforce used sarin gas in the northwestern rebel-held district of Idlib, something Russian Federation and Syria have denied.

The Turkish authorities use the word "neutralized" for those who are killed or captured or have surrendered during the fighting.

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Mahmoud also said Ankara's statements that civilians were being evacuated out of Afrin were false. "Soon we will bring these down on the heads of the terrorists in the strongest way".

Erdogan's foreign minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, said last week that Turkey and Iraq's central government could start a joint military operation against Kurdish militants after Iraqi parliamentary elections scheduled for May 2018.

Turkey considers the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) in Syria and its armed wing YPG to be "terrorist groups" with ties to the banned Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).

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