Turkey shelled targets in northern Syria on Monday and mentioned it could swiftly crush the U.S.-backed Kurdish YPG fighters who management the Afrin area, amid rising worldwide concern over its three-day-old navy operation.
Turkish forces and their Syrian insurgent allies started their push to clear YPG fighters from the northwestern enclave on Saturday, opening a brand new entrance in Syria’s civil struggle regardless of requires restraint from the US.
France has referred to as for an emergency assembly of the United Nations Safety Council on Monday to debate the preventing in Afrin and different components of Syria.
The YPG’s Afrin spokesman, Birusk Hasaka, mentioned there have been clashes between Kurdish and Turkey-backed forces on the third day of the operation. He mentioned Turkish shelling had hit civilian areas in Afrin’s northeast.
Ankara considers the YPG a terrorist group tied to Kurdish militant separatists in Turkey and has been infuriated by U.S. assist for the fighters. Washington, which has backed the YPG within the battle in opposition to Islamic State in Syria, mentioned on Sunday it was involved concerning the scenario.
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Turkish anger at U.S. assist for the YPG is one in every of plenty of points which have introduced relations between the US and its largest Muslim ally inside NATO to the breaking level in current months.
Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdogan has pledged to crush the YPG in Afrin, and likewise says he’ll goal the Kurdish-held city of Manbij to the east, a part of a a lot bigger swath of northern Syria managed by YPG-dominated forces.
That raises the prospect of protracted battle between Turkey and its allied Free Syrian Military factions in opposition to the Kurdish YPG, who spearheaded the U.S.-backed marketing campaign to drive Islamic State out of its Syrian strongholds final yr.
Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Simsek performed down the potential for a harmful and drawn-out navy marketing campaign.
“Our traders ought to be relaxed, the affect can be restricted, the operation can be temporary and it’ll cut back the fear threat to Turkey within the interval forward,” Simsek, who oversees financial affairs, mentioned at a ceremony in Ankara.
A senior Turkish official declined to provide a timeframe for the operation however mentioned it could “transfer quick”, including that Turkey believed there was some native assist in each Afrin and Manbij for its motion. “Some tribes are even providing to participate within the Manbij operation,” the official mentioned.
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Turkey’s “Euphrates Defend” operation to drive again Islamic State and YPG fighters, which it launched in August 2016, lasted seven months. Thus far there was no indication of main beneficial properties on the bottom by Turkey-backed forces in Afrin.
YPG official Nouri Mahmoud mentioned Turkish forces had not taken any territory. “Our forces have thus far repelled them and compelled them to retreat,” he instructed Reuters. He mentioned there have been intense air strikes throughout Afrin. Turkish officers didn’t verify any air strikes on Monday.
A Reuters cameraman close to Hassa, throughout the border from Afrin, noticed Turkish shelling on Monday morning. Dogan information company mentioned Turkish howitzers opened hearth at 1 a.m. (2200 GMT) in opposition to YPG targets.
It mentioned militia targets had been additionally being destroyed by Turkish warplanes and a number of rocket launchers.
On Sunday a Turkish official mentioned Turkey-backed Free Syrian Military insurgent factions had captured a Kurdish village with no resistance and had been clearing landmines. The YPG mentioned it had repelled the Turkish forces.
Turkey sees the YPG presence on its southern border as a home safety menace. Defeating the militia in Afrin would cut back Kurdish-controlled territory on its frontier and hyperlink up two areas managed by insurgents against President Bashar al-Assad – Idlib province and the Euphrates Defend space.
The Turkey-backed Free Syrian Military factions, which have come collectively underneath the banner of a newly branded “Nationwide Military”, additionally need to see an finish to YPG rule in Afrin.
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They are saying native authorities in Afrin have usually arrested males attempting to cross by the area, and accuse the YPG of displacing 150,000 Arab residents of cities together with Tel Rifaat and Menigh to the east of Afrin, captured in 2016.
“This can be a historic second in our revolution,” Mohammad al-Hamadeen, a senior officer within the FSA forces instructed fighters within the city of Azaz on Sunday, as they ready to affix the bottom offensive in Afrin. “God prepared very quickly we’ll return to our area that we had been pushed from two years in the past”.
All through a lot of the multi-sided seven-year-old civil struggle in Syria, Turkey and the US collectively backed Arab fighters searching for to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad. Since 2014, Washington angered Turkey by rising nearer to the Kurdish militia, which it supported with air strikes, arms, coaching and particular forces advisers on the bottom to oppose Islamic State.