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Tuesday, 23 January 2018

Turkey intensifies offensive against US-backed Kurds

Ankara's 'Operation Olive Branch' aims to create a buffer zone in Afrin, a Kurdish-controlled enclave on Turkey's border

Turkey has begun a major new offensive in northwestern Syria, in a bid to oust Kurdish militia from the area.
Named 'Operation Olive Branch', the ground and air operation aims to create a 20-mile (30km) "secure zone" in Afrin, a Kurdish-controlled enclave on Turkey's border.
Members of Free Syrian Army (FSA), backed by the Turkish army, are confronting US-backed Syrian Kurdish fighters, known as the People's Defence Units or YPG.

Turkey considers the YPG to be a terrorist group because of its ties to its own Kurdish insurgency.
So far one Turkish soldier has been killed in a cross-border raid.
The operation puts Turkey at odds with the US, which has logistically supported the Kurdish fighters as part of the fight against Islamic State.
The US had planned to create a 30,000-strong border force of existing Kurdish and Arab SDF members to ensure there would be no IS comeback - a move that has outraged Turkey.

Turkish President Recep Tayyp Erdogan has taken a hard line, refusing to "take a step back", and instead promising to expand the operation to the east.
Turkey says its aim is to establish security along the Turkish border and protect the Syrian people from the oppression and cruelty of terrorists.
US defence secretary Jim Mattis, who said his country had been given advance notice of the Afrin offensive, says Turkey has "legitimate security concerns".
NATO has also recognised Turkey's right to self-defence, but urged Ankara to do so in a "proportionate and measured way".

The Kurdish force has called Turkey's offensive a "flagrant hostility" to all Syrians, and blamed Russia for the attack.
Activists say about 10,000 allied Syrian opposition fighters have been mobilised by Turkey to take part in the offensive.
There are an estimated 8,000 to 10,000 Kurdish fighters in the Afrin enclave, which is also home to about 800,000 civilians.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says that at least 18 civilians have been killed in the fighting. However, restricted access makes it difficult to independently verify developments.
The UN will meet on Monday to discuss the situation.

courtesy sky news