Published: Mon, January 22, 2018
Worldwide | By Gretchen Simon

Turkey's Erdogan warns pro-Kurdish to not protest Afrin…

Turkey's Erdogan warns pro-Kurdish to not protest Afrin…

The militia forms the backbone of the Syrian Democratic Forces, the main USA ally against the Islamic State group in Syria. Another five were wounded when rockets hit the border town of Kilis, a Reuters witness said.

Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said France was calling the UN Security Council meeting as it was deeply anxious by the "brutal degradation of the situation" in flashpoints like Afrin.

Turkish officials said the troops entered Afrin a day after dozens of Turkish jets and artillery units at the border pounded Syrian Kurdish targets.

Ankara has long fought Kurdish unrest in southeastern Turkey.

The Turkish army has over the last two days shelled camps and refuges used by the People's Protection Units (YPG) militia in response to fire from the militia group, which Turkey deems to be a terror organisation.

Why is Turkey targeting US-backed groups? Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in an interview with Kommersant newspaper that Turkey had been infuriated by "unilateral" USA actions in Syria.

Thousands rallied against the attacks in the border town of Amuda in northwest Syria.

Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdag said the operation will continue until "all the terror elements are removed", which he said include the PKK, YPG and the Islamic State.

The Iranian Foreign Ministry on Sunday also called for Turkey's operation in Afrin to be "completed immediately" and for the prevention a crisis in the border region of Turkey and Syria, according to state-run news agency IRNA. Residents and activists also reported airstrikes in the region. The Afrin district houses no less than 800,000 civilians, including displaced people from earlier years of the Syrian war. Russian Federation has not removed its observers from Afrin. They said they refused the proposal.

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Reports say Turkish forces have crossed the Syrian border and aim to create a security zone some 30km deep inside Syria.

It was not immediately possible to reach Russian officials. Turkish-backed rebels and USA forces have been trading fire there, USA defense officials said.

Turkey accuses the YPG of being the Syrian offshoot of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) which has waged a rebellion in the Turkish southeast for more than three decades and is regarded as a terror group by Ankara and its Western allies.

It was the second Turkish town to come under attack.

Birusk Hasaka, the YPG spokesman in Afrin, said Turkish forces were repulsed after fierce clashes with Syrian rebel factions. Bali said the SDF sent reinforcements to Afrin.

Meanwhile the Turkish threats of an intervention have also raised eyebrows in Washington, which has backed the YPG as it dislodged IS and gained control of the swathe of northern Syria up to the Iraqi border.

The Turkish army said there were casualties but insisted they were all members either of the YPG or the PKK. It said the Turkey-backed forces entered Shinkal and Adah Manli to the west. Residents in border villages were taking precautions against the bombings, he said.

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. The town has since emerged as a model for USA -backed Kurdish rule of largely Arab areas.

Turkish artillery firing on Kurdish position in Afrin, Syria.

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