Published: Mon, February 19, 2018
Worldwide | By Gretchen Simon

Assad forces to enter Afrin in hours, Syrian broadcaster claims

Assad forces to enter Afrin in hours, Syrian broadcaster claims

While Damascus has yet to comment on the information, a YPG official previously debunked claims that the Syrian army is set to enter the battle in Afrin.

Kurdish fighters in northern Syria say they have struck a deal with the Syrian government under which it will send troops to help repel a Turkish offensive.

On Jan. 20, Turkey launched Operation Olive Branch to remove terrorist groups, including the PKK/PYD and Daesh, from northwestern Syria.

The battlefield in northern Syria is complicated by a web of rivalries and alliances among Kurdish forces, the Syrian government, rebel factions, Turkey, the United States and Russian Federation.

Cavusoglu dismissed the reports as propaganda by organisations close to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) that has waged a three-decade insurgency on Turkish soil.

But the YPG has been working closely with Washington to oust the Islamic State extremist group from Syria, which has strained relations between the two North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies.

"We can cooperate with any side that lends us a helping hand in light of the barbaric crimes and the global silence", Mr Jia Kurd said.

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On Sunday, a senior Syrian Kurdish official said Kurdish forces and the Syrian government had reached a deal for the Syrian army to enter Afrin, and that it could be implemented within two days.

Although Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's government and the YPG have mostly avoided direct conflict, they have occasionally clashed.

Jia Kurd said the agreement with Damascus on Afrin was purely military and included no wider political arrangements.

According to Reuters, a Kurdish political official said Russian Federation could object to any agreement between the YPG and the Syrian government as it complicates its own diplomatic efforts with Turkey. "Turkey has never used any kind of chemical weapons", Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told reporters at the Munich Security Conference.

Syrian Kurdish forces and a monitoring group said the Turkish military carried out a suspected gas attack that wounded six people in Syria's Afrin region on Friday. Their sphere of influence expanded as they seized territory from Islamic State with US help, though Washington says it opposes their autonomy plans.

Turkey has said it could expand its assault to those areas and last week renewed its demands for the YPG to pull out of all parts of Syria west of the Euphrates.

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