Turkey foiled Syrian move into Afrin after Putin talks: Erdogan

Feb 20, 2018, 18:32
Turkey foiled Syrian move into Afrin after Putin talks: Erdogan

The Syrian Kurdish YPG militia denied on Monday agreeing a deal with Damascus for the Syrian army to enter the Afrin region to help repel a Turkish offensive.

Turkey on January 20 launched Operation Olive Branch to remove YPG/PKK-Daesh terrorists from Afrin, northwestern Syria, along Turkey's border.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has described US-sponsored Kurdish armed elements as "traitors" to the nation but has also denounced Turkish incursions as an act of aggression.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu warned Damascus against supporting the Kurds, while the country's Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdag said that if Syrian forces entered Afrin, this would lead to a catastrophe.

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Any agreement between the Kurds and the Syrian government further complicates the multi-sided conflict in northern Syria involving Kurdish forces, the Syrian government, rebel factions, Turkey, the United States, Iran and Russian Federation.

The reports on Syrian state media specified that it would not be the Syrian army but militias allied to the Government that would mount the operation.

The YPG is regarded by Ankara as the Syrian affiliate of the banned Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), a terrorist organization listed by Turkey.

"The army will deploy in several border areas, in coordination with the People's Protection Units and the Syrian Democratic Forces", said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to reveal details of the agreement.

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Speaking to the Agence France-Presse (AFP), one Kurdish politician made the argument that if Assad did not accept Kurdish sovereignty in Afrin, he was obligated to protect the region from a Turkish invasion.

Turkey's North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ally the United States has armed the YPG as part of an alliance it backs in Syria against Islamic State, causing widespread anger in Ankara.

Turkey's assault on Afrin, launched last month, aims to clear the region of YPG fighters that now control the territory. But they have also indirectly worked together in the past, and Turkey represents a common enemy.

PYD/YPG terrorists are leaving Qamishli city bordering Turkish Mardin province in northern Syria, Turkish media reported referring to a source in the Turkish military intelligence.

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The Turkish officials detailed the call on condition of anonymity in line with government regulations. The paper claimed that under the deal, the YPG had agreed to hand over heavy weapons it holds.

The Observatory said airstrikes and shelling killed 44 people.

While UN officials say hundreds of thousands of people have been killed in the conflict, Syrian regime officials say the death toll is closer to 10,000.

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