Saturday, 17 November, 2018

Turkish troops seize Syrian town center from Kurdish fighters

Advent of spring celebrated with Nevruz festival Turkish troops seize Syrian town center from Kurdish fighters
Patty Aguilar | 18 March, 2018, 17:54

THE Turkish military and allied Syrian forces have taken "total" control of the town centre of Afrin, the target of an offensive against the Kurdish militia.

The fight for Afrin, a once stable pocket of northwest Syria, has opened a new front in Syria's multi-sided civil war and highlighted the ever greater role of foreign powers such as Turkey in the seven-year-old conflict.

On January 20, Turkey launched a cross-border offensive into Syria, with the aim to dislodge Kurdish "terrorists" from Afrin.

A Turkish soldier embraced martyrdom after he succumbed to his wounds during Operation Olive Branch in Syria's northwestern Afrin, the Turkish General Staff said Sunday.

"Most of the terrorists fled already", Erdogan said. "In the centre of Afrin, symbols of trust and stability are waving instead of rags of terrorists".

The agency added that Turkish troops and allied Syrian opposition forces have captured 224 villages and 44 "critical points" since the operation began.

The Observatory said that almost 200,000 people have fled the region of Afrin over the past days and entered government-controlled areas nearby, adding that 11 people were killed Saturday when a shell hit a truck carrying fleeing people. Hediye Yusuf, a founding member of the self-declared Democratic Federal System of Northern Syria, said that Kurdish fighters left the city as part of an effort to safely evacuate civilians from what he termed a "massacre" by pro-Turkish forces. "They are combing the streets and the houses".

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Mohammad al-Hamadeen said the fighters entered Afrin shortly before dawn, from the north, east and west of the town, and had not encountered any resistance.

Syria's state-run Al-Ikhbariya TV on Sunday broadcast footage of government forces rolling into Saqba, a town in eastern Ghouta controlled by Faylaq al-Rahman.

Turkey's military denied shelling the hospital.

"We have more to do".

At least 200,000 civilians had fled the city over the last week, the Observatory said. She said clashes in the town were still underway.

Instead of bombing the depot, the Turkey-backed forces entered it and took over its control without harming any of the civilians hiding inside, said the source who refused to be named due to restrictions on speaking to the media.

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