Turkish forces only 4 km away from Syria's Afrin city: watchdog

Larry Hoffman
March 11, 2018

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Friday said Turkish forces and allied rebels could enter the centre of the Kurdish-held Syrian town of Afrin "at any moment", a day after capturing another strategic town.

Turkey launched its operation, dubbed "Olive Branch", in northern Syria almost seven weeks ago to sweep the Syrian Kurdish YPG from the Turkish border. Where there are terrorists, we'll be there, he added.

Turkey's foreign minister said Ankara and Washington have established working groups to discuss the stabilization of Manbij and other Syrian cities east of the Euphrates.

Turkish armed forces are besieging the Syrian Kurdish-controlled district of Afrin in northern Syria, Turkey's president has said.

"We're in Afrin today".

Turkey regards the YPG as a terror group and a branch of militants in Turkey who have waged an insurgency for decades.

The operation is being carried out under the framework of Turkey's rights based on global law, UN Security Council resolutions, its self-defence rights under the UN charter and respect for Syria's territorial integrity, it said. "We will take the entire area under control in the first phase and send our brothers from Afrin back to their lands", Erdogan further said, adding that the Turkish troops had already "made safe" an area extending to 815 square kilometers. A total of 3,171 have been neutralized.

"Right now, Afrin city centre is surrounded".

Turkish officials often use the word "neutralized" in their statements to imply the terrorists in question either surrendered or were killed or captured.

Turkey launched the operation on January 20 to clear the People's Protection Units (YPG), which Ankara considers a terror group affiliated to the PKK, from northwestern Syria.

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