Azerbaijan fully understands Turkey's security concerns against terror threat - Foreign Ministry

Erika Holt
January 22, 2018

Turkish warplanes and artillery have hit 153 PYD/PKK and Daesh targets in Syria's Afrin, so far, the Turkish General Staff said earlier on Sunday.

Turkish ground forces entered Syria's Afrin province on Sunday morning in a bid to oust US-backed Kurdish militias from the border between the two countries. "All the Turkish military's ground attacks against Afrin have been repelled so far and they have been forced to retreat", says YPG official Nouri Mahmoudi, according to Reuters.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced on Saturday the military operation in Syria's Afrin has "actively" started.

But the campaign risks further increasing tensions with Turkey's North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ally the United States - which has supported the YPG in the fight against Islamic State - and also needs at least the tacit support of Russian Federation to succeed.

Turkey opened a new front in Syria's almost seven-year-old war on Saturday, launching airstrikes against a US -backed Kurdish militia in Afrin Province that raise the prospect of a further strain on relations between Ankara and Washington.

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The official said freeing the nearby town of Manbij - which the Kurds took back from Isis in 2016 - from militant control will follow the operation to Afrin, adding that the operations are aimed at rebuilding social and economic infrastructure in the region. The Turkish army said there were casualties but insisted they were all members either of the YPG or the PKK.

US trying to create alternative govt on Syrian land - Lavrov on Afrin crisis The US is working to create alternative government systems on Syrian territory which goes against its promises to respect the country's territorial integrity, Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has said. The YPG has said Turkey's strikes killed eight civilians and three of its fighters and wounded 13 civilians.

"Turkey's ground forces entered Syria's Afrin at 11:05 on Sunday", the newspaper quoted the prime minister as saying. He said Turkey has always supported "terrorists" in Syria.

France asked Turkey to act with restraint, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said after speaking by phone with his Turkish counterpart. They also said that thousands of pro-Turkey civilians had escaped the YPG-controlled areas in an attempt to reach Aleppo. He said no US forces were now at risk from the Turkish operations.

It said the shelters belonged to the People's Protection Units, or YPG, which Turkey says is an extension of an outlawed Kurdish rebel group that it's fighting inside its own borders.

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