Wednesday, 20 March, 2019

Turkey's military offensive in Syria enters second week

Reuters Reuters
Patty Aguilar | 30 January, 2018, 08:04

Meanwhile, other regional players in Syria are hardly more enthusiastic than Turkey about the prospect of a long-term USA troop presence in Syria or about the existence of the Kurdish autonomous zone the troops appear to be cementing.

Turkish anger with USA policy is not new; it dates to the Obama administration's decision to arm the Syrian Kurds to fight Daesh in 2015, said Robert Ford, a former US ambassador to Syria who is now a senior fellow at the Middle East Institute and teaches at Yale University.

Last week the Turkish Medical Association (TTB) denounced the cross-border operation, saying "No to war, peace immediately".

On Wednesday, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Turkey's concern was to facilitate the return of 3.5 million Syrians who live in Turkey to their country.

The Observatory says the death toll it has been able to verify includes 59 YPG fighters, 69 Syrian rebels and seven Turkish soldiers.

Turkish forces are set to push the operation to the city of Manbij and then as far east as the Iraqi border.

Syria and Iran also are unhappy about American plans to remain in Syria, and the Turkish offensive appears only to have brought Turkey, Russia, Iran and Syria closer together, analysts say.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the fatalities, including five children from one family, were from the village of Kobla just outside of Afrin, which had been previously hit by Turkish bombardments.

At the main hospital in Afrin, a pick-up truck pulled up on Sunday carrying wounded civilians, including children in blood-stained clothes, who were rushed inside for treatment.

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Clouds of black smoke were seen rising from the hills around Afrin, but fighting has not yet reached the city.

Turkey's armed forces "have eliminated 597 terrorists" since the start of Operation Olive Branch in the Afrin area in northern Syria, the country's General Staff said in a statement on Monday.

An estimated 5,000 people have been displaced by clashes between Turkish-led forces and Kurdish fighters, the United Nations has said.

The terrorist PYD/PKK has used Mt. Bursaya to target civilians in the center of Turkey's Kilis province and Syria's Azaz district through mortar shells, artillery, and missiles. The latter is considered by Turkey to be affiliated with the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), designated as a terrorist organization in Turkey.

The PKK, which has waged a war against the Turkish state for three decades, is proscribed as a terror group by Ankara and its Western allies.

The YPG is not known to have claimed or actively carried out any terror attacks inside Turkey.

"A NATO ally arming a terrorist organisation that is attacking another NATO ally is a fundamental breach of everything that NATO stands for", he wrote.

Syria's main Kurdish militant group has announced that it will boycott upcoming peace talks in Russian Federation over a military incursion by Turkey into territories held by Kurds in northern Syria.

Syria's conflict has killed more than 340,000 people and displaced millions since it began in March 2011.

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