Published: Mon, March 19, 2018
Global Media | By Garry Long

Turkey Captures North Syrian Kurdish City of Afrin

Turkey Captures North Syrian Kurdish City of Afrin

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced Sunday that Turkish troops and their Syrian rebel fighter allies have seized control of the town center of Afrin from Kurdish YPG fighters.

Turkish President Erdogan talked up the victory, and claimed most of the Kurdish "terrorists" had actually fled the invasion.

A WhatsApp group run by the Kurdish-dominated Syrian Democratic Forces called the act a "blatant violation of Kurdish people's culture and history".

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights war monitor confirmed the reports, saying Turkey's Syrian allies "have begun pillaging private property, political and military sites and shops".

After chasing Kurdish fighters from Afrin, the pro-Ankara fighters broke into shops, restaurants and houses and left with foodstuff, electronic equipment, blankets and other goods, the correspondents said.

"Our war against the Turkish occupation and the forces of Takfirism, the so-called Free Army, has entered a new stage, which is the transition from the direct confrontation war to hit-and-run tactic to avoid more civilians getting killed", Othman Sheikh Issa, co-chairman of the Afrin Executive Council, said in a televised statement Sunday.

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They called on the United Nations, European powers, Muslim countries and members of the US -led military coalition against Islamic State to "take steps to immediately avert the tragedy in Afrin and get concrete results, including withdrawal of all armed forces who entered Afrin".

As the original battles in Syria's civil war draw to an end, with government forces pummeling the few remaining rebel-held areas and Islamic State on the retreat, new fronts have opened up as local, regional and global powers try to stake out positions for the post-war period.

According to the Turkish General Staff, the operation has aimed to establish security and stability along Turkey's borders and the region as well as to protect Syrians from terrorist oppression and cruelty.

"This is a gift for those who were martyred on March 18", said a Turkish soldier as he waved the national flag in the video.

Free Syrian Army spokesman Mohammad al-Hamadeen said the fighters entered the town from the north, east and west.

He added, "We will have to take necessary steps to rebuild Afrin, raise infrastructure and wipe out traces of terrorists".

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