Turkish leader vows wider offensive against Kurdish militia

24 March, 2018, 16:36 | Author: Diane Mills
  • A young boy waits at a check point near Afrin

In Afrin, the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) could do little when Syrian Arab fighters backed by NATO's second-largest army thrust into the city.

It was said to have been used by Isis fighters.

Bitterness is running high among the Kurds, who feel betrayed by the global community for sacrifices they made when battling the Islamic State jihadist group in Syria.

Turkey is concerned about the presence in northern Iraq of militants of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) which has waged the insurgency in Turkey since the 1980s.

A senior Kurdish official, Aldar Khalil, called the Turkish offensive an "occupation" that endangers "the whole of northern Syria". Relations with the USA have been strained over Washington's support for the YPG, and a direct confrontation between their forces is liable to ignite over Turkey's vow to clear Kurdish fighters from areas where US forces are embedded.

"We demand that the Turkish military and its Islamist allies withdraw from Afrin and end this war of aggression", German daily newspaper Die Welt quoted Naki as saying.

Nauert also warned that the fighting has distracted from the battle against IS, which she said had begun "reconstituting in some areas".

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Turkey has served notice to the Iraqi government in Baghdad that its forces would attack the major PKK camp on Mount Sinjar near the Syrian border unless Iraq takes action.

Turkey's disaster management agency and military on Tuesday distributed food aid to civilians in 35 villages of Afrin, Syria recently liberated during the counter-terrorist Operation Olive Branch.

Bozdaq pushed back that the Turkish military operation in Afrin was "not against civilians or Kurds but against terrorists" and that no civilians had been hurt during the Turkish-led offensive.

The operation is being carried out under the framework of Turkey's rights based on global law, UN Security Council resolutions, its self-defense rights under the UN Charter and respect for Syria's territorial integrity, it said.

He also noted that the Turkish Red Crescent is now providing food support for between 10,000 and 20,000 residents in Eastern Ghouta every day.

The Afrin campaign was Turkey's second cross-border operation into Syria during the seven-year-old civil war.

After the completion of Euphrates Shield in early 2017, Turkey set up local systems of governance in the swathe of land captured, protected by Turkish forces.

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