Turkish-backed rebels advance on Kurdish-held Syrian town

Last month, pro-regime forces entered the Afrin region to take a stand against the Turkish offensive.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Friday that Turkey-backed troops had surrounded Afrin city centre in northwestern Syria and were ready to enter at any moment as part of Operation Olive Branch.

"Then we will also clear Manbij, Ayn al-Arab, Tal Abyad, Resulayn and Kamisli of terrorists", Erdoğan said, naming other Syria cities near Turkey's borders.

According to a Saturday report by the British broadcaster Sky News, funerals of the war victims are now a daily occurrence in Afrin, with residents burying the bodies of civilians, including children, and Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) forces in a sparsely populated farmland on the outskirts of Afrin city.

Turkish forces took over the town of Jindires in southern Afrin on Thursday, removing a major obstacle on the road to Afrin's largest urban center.

"The forces of Erdogan's Turkish army. are 10 to 15km away from it [Afrin]", Nouri Mahmoud said.

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Reportedly, during the Operation Olive Branch, 730 square kilometers of the territory were cleared of terrorists.

In his speech, Erdogan said the military operation would not end with the seizure of Afrin. As of now, we have Afrin encircled. "And the next day we will ensure that terrorists are cleared east of the Euphrates River up to the Iraqi border", he said.

The US, who has supported the YPG in its campaign to defeat the Islamic State in Syria, does not agree with Ankara's designation of the Kurdish forces and has called on Turkey to limit its operations.

The Syrian government has already condemned the "brutal Turkish aggression" against Afrin, rejecting Ankara's claim about having informed Damascus of the operation.

Turkey has repeatedly called on the U.S. to stop working with the YPG.

The Turkish operation in Afrin will be completed by May, after which the military may look to move into Iraq, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu announced yesterday, according to state news agency TRT World.

  • Adam Floyd