Turkish forces push into Syria, clash with Kurdish militia

Turkish jets pound Kurdish positions as Erdogan says Afrin invasion has begun
24 by activists in Afrin showed black smoke rising from behind residential buildings

22 January, 2018

"Allah is with us", Erdogan said: "Got willing, this operation will come to an end in a short time".

The Turkish military stated that the YPG is "using civilians in Afrin as a human shield", while the National Intelligence Agency (MİT) has also reportedly confirmed that the YPG is "trying to depict the militants hit by military operations as civilians". "A continued crisis in Afrin may boost.terrorist groups in northern Syria".

Turkish ground troops entered Syria on Sunday to push an offensive against Kurdish militia as rocket fire hit a border town in apparent retaliation. Turkish-backed rebels and USA forces have been trading fire there, U.S. defense officials said.

Turkey launched its "Olive Branch" military operation with an air campaign on Saturday after eight days of cross-border artillery shelling by Turkish soldiers.

The Turkish army was reportedly accompanied by Ankara-allied Free Syrian Army (FSA) fighters.

As he announced the start of the Afrin operation on Saturday, Erdogan also said the intervention will be extended next to Manbij in northern Syria.

But even more crucial is the attitude of Russian Federation, which has a military presence in the area and is also working with Turkey on a drive to end the civil war.

A YPG spokesman claimed that the Turkish forces had sought to enter Afrin "but we blocked the attack".

But the campaign risks further increasing tensions with Turkey's North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ally Washington, which has supported the YPG in the fight against Islamic State (IS) jihadists and warned Ankara about distracting the focus from that fight.

Footage released on Sunday showed Turkish military convoys on the Syrian border.

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Turkish officials say 11 rockets launched from Syria have landed in Turkish towns along the border, killing at least one Syrian refugee and injuring 47.

The Turkish government said it has no intention to invade Syria and its troops would pull out after its targets were eliminated. The second is Afrin Canton in northern Syria, one of the four cantons of Rojava, a de-facto autonomous Kurdish region established in Syria.

Turkey has been particularly outraged by an announcement that the US planned to train 30,000 personnel in parts of northeast Syria under the control of the YPG-led Syrian Democratic Forces.

"We call on all parties to remain focused on the central goal of defeating" the Islamic State jihadist group, Nauert said.

Turkey's state-run Anadolu news agency reported Friday afternoon that Russian military personnel in the Afrin area were withdrawing from their positions but Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov later issued a strong denial.

The first phase will be aimed at forming a secure zone on the Turkish borders between Azaz and Afrin, Yıldırım said, adding that following the first phase the "cleaning" would require an even more thorough work and "there was no need to rush".

Plumes of smoke rise on the air from inside Syria, as seen from the outskirts of the border town of Kilis, Turkey, Saturday, Jan. 20, 2018.

The next day, on January 21, the Turkish General Staff said 153 targets were hit in an operation carried out "with respect for Syria's territorial integrity" and stemming from Turkey's rights under worldwide law.

Turkey is using self-defence under worldwide law, and the "Olive Branch" operation is aimed at eliminating Kurdish PYD/YPG forces along with the Islamic State, the army said, accusing the YPG of using civilians as human shields.

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