Dhaka, Sun, 23 Sep, 2018

Turkey’s troops cross over into Syria’s Afrin

21 Jan, 2018 18:40:00

Turkish ground troops have crossed into the Syrian enclave of Afrin, as part of its operation against Syrian Kurdish armed group YPG, Prime Minister Binali Yildirim announced.

In a press conference in Istanbul on Sunday, Yildirim said Turkish forces had crossed into the YPG-controlled region in Syria at 0805 GMT from the Turkish village of Gulbaba.

He added that Turkey plans to establish a 30km "safe zone" in Afrin.

Turkish news agency Anadolu reported that the Turkish forces were backed by armoured vehicles, special forces and infantry regiments. They have reportedly advanced five kilometres inside Afrin. 

Earlier, Anadolu also reported that Turkish-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA) fighters had advanced towards Afrin in the early hours of Sunday. 

The YPG confirmed the advance, saying two villages in Afrin's Bilbil district near the Turkish border came under attack.  

As early as Friday, thousands of FSA fighters have already been mobilised in Turkey's Hatay province and Syrian locations east of Afrin.

On Saturday, Yildirim had said Turkish ground troops were likely to join in the Afrin operation as early as Sunday.

He said that "depending on developments, our ground units will perform the necessary activities".

The first phase of the operation conducted by Turkish air forces destroyed "nearly all" targets, he told reporters on Saturday. At least 72 jets were reportedly involved in the operation.

So far, the operation has killed at least six civilians, as well as two female and one male Kurdish rebel fighters, according to the Syrian Kurdish YPG. At least 13 other people were injured.

Turkey's military said on Sunday it targeted at least 153 "shelters, hideouts and ammunition depots" of the Kurdish armed groups as well as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, known as ISIS) in several areas.

But the Syrian Kurdish YPG said that civilian areas were also hit, including Afrin's city centre.

Smoke rises from Syria's Afrin region following the Turkish operation on Saturday [Reuters]

On Saturday, Yildirim had said Turkish ground troops were likely to join in the Afrin operation as early as Sunday.

He said that "depending on developments, our ground units will perform the necessary activities".

The first phase of the operation conducted by Turkish air forces destroyed "nearly all" targets, he told reporters on Saturday. At least 72 jets were reportedly involved in the operation.

So far, the operation has killed at least six civilians, as well as two female and one male Kurdish rebel fighters, according to the Syrian Kurdish YPG. At least 13 other people were injured.

Turkey's military said on Sunday it targeted at least 153 "shelters, hideouts and ammunition depots" of the Kurdish armed groups as well as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, known as ISIS) in several areas.

But the Syrian Kurdish YPG said that civilian areas were also hit, including Afrin's city centre.

Source: Al jazeera

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