Saturday, 23 June, 2018

Turkey's President Erdogan hopes Afrin 'will fall by this evening'

Turkish troops and allied Syrian opposition fighters have begun a siege of the Syrian Kurdish-held town of Afrin the Protesters call on government to help people in Afrin
Kenny Thornton | 14 March, 2018, 22:35

President Tayyip Erdogan's remarks about Turkey's military and its rebel allies capturing northern Syria's Afrin town refer to the completion of the town's encirclement by Wednesday evening, not its fall, a source in Erdogan's office said.

Afrin city - the main urban centre in the YPG-controlled enclave on the Turkish border - is home to around 350,000 people, the Observatory said.

Cavusoglu was quoted as saying that Turkey and the USA will oversee the withdrawl of YPG militants from Syria's Manbij city, though Syrian Kurdish officials deny the claim.

Speaking in Ankara, the Turkish president was quoted as saying by the AFP news agency that "We have got a little closer to Afrin". Assad's forces, backed by Russian Federation and Iran, say they are targeting "terrorist" groups shelling the capital.

Turkey - together with the Syrian opposition Free Syrian Army (FSA) rebel group - launched in January an air-and-ground operation into Afrin in the northwest of Syria to vanquish the US-backed Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) fighters near its border.

Russian Federation backs Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in that country's civil war, while the United States has backed rebel groups opposed to him. The conflict has torn the country apart.

US ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley has railed against the Syrian government's recently intensified campaign to retake the insurgent-held district of eastern Ghouta outside Damascus, accusing Syria and its Russian and Iranian allies of mounting civilian casualties. Russian Federation and Iran have been strong backers of Assad, helping him in his bid to regain control of territories.

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State-run Syrian TV broadcast footage showing a group of men, women and children it says left the town of Madyara after it was captured by Syrian troops on Sunday. The broadcaster said 25 people were evacuated.

Turkish troops have destroyed water and power stations that supply Afrin, making it hard for people to stay there.

A member of the local council of Harasta said Wednesday that residents have been in underground shelters for long periods amid heavy bombardment.

He spoke on condition of anonymity out of safety concerns.

Government forces have recently split the enclave in two and cut off the towns of Douma and Harasta.

USA officials have been drumming up multiple pretexts for another strike, including more poorly documented chemical weapons incidents, Syrian offensives against rebel factions in Eastern Ghouta, and Syrian airstrikes that are either near or in a de-escalation zone in the Daraa Province.

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