Turkish-backed Syrian rebels have taken “total” management of the centre of Afrin, a Kurdish-majority metropolis in northern Syria, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan stated on Sunday.
“Units of the Free Syrian Army, which are backed by Turkish armed forces, took control of the centre of Afrin this morning at 8:30 am (0530 GMT),” Erdogan stated, including that de-mining operations have been underneath manner.
Taking Afrin has been the primary goal of Turkey’s operation Olive Department, a lethal floor and air offensive launched on January 20 with the purpose of ousting the Individuals’s Safety Models (YPG), a Kurdish militia group.
Erdogan stated a “large number” of Kurdish fighters had “fled with their tails between their legs”. He added Turkish particular forces had deployed within the metropolis.
Information of Afrin’s seize was additionally confirmed by the Turkish navy, which launched a press release saying town centre was “under control”.
“Search operations to locate mines and other explosives are under way,” it stated.
On Twitter, the navy posted a video of a soldier placing a Turkish flag on a balcony.
“Now the Turkish flag will fly over there! The flag of the Free Syrian Army will fly over there!” stated Erdogan who was talking at a ceremony marking the battle to open the Dardanelles throughout World Warfare I.
Because the Turkish operation intensified, greater than 200,00zero civilians fled the Kurdish-majority metropolis in lower than three days and dozens have been killed within the space, in line with the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
The monitor stated Sunday that greater than 1,500 Kurdish fighters have been killed within the two-month assault by Turkish forces and allied Syrian rebels on Afrin.
Most died in air strikes and artillery hearth, the group stated including that greater than 400 pro-Ankara rebels had been killed since January 20 Ankara sees the YPG as a Syrian offshoot of the outlawed Kurdistan Staff’ Celebration (PKK), which has been waging an insurgency inside Turkey since 1984.
However Washington has offered weapons to the YPG, which it sees as a key ally within the combat in opposition to jihadists in Syria and Turkey, with Ankara’s navy operation climbing tensions between the 2 NATO allies.
In keeping with figures launched by the Turkish military, 46 Turkish troopers have been killed because the begin of the Afrin offensive.
Afrin is one among a number of fronts within the Syrian battle which has left 350,00 individuals useless and displaced hundreds of thousands of individuals since 2011.