Turkish president voices hope for Afrin operation in Syria to end soon

A Turkish military tanks arrives at an army base in the border town of Reyhanli near the Turkish Syrian border in Hatay province

Turkish president voices hope for Afrin operation in Syria to end soon

Turkey's army and rebel allies battled US -backed Kurdish militia in Syria's Afrin province on Sunday, stepping up a two-day-old campaign against YPG fighters that has opened a new front in Syria's civil war.

The announcement of a border force infuriated Turkey's leaders, and Erdogan has accused the United States, its most powerful North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ally, of "building an army of terror" on his border and threatened to "drown" the US-backed force.

Following the airstrike, the authorities of the Afrin canton told Sputnik that at least 10 Afrin residents had been injured in the attack. Turkish-backed rebels and USA forces have been trading fire there, U.S. defense officials said.

Turkish security forces retaliated in kind, it said.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the dead, who included five children, were killed in air strikes on the village of Jalbara.

Turkey is seeking to establish a 30-km security zone through the Afrin operation, and the four-phase offensive will be done "in a very rapid manner", Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said on Sunday.

Rockets fired across the border from Syria hit the Turkish town of Reyhanli, killing a Syrian national and wounding 46 people, the local governor's office said.

USA officials have said that the administration had appealed to Turkey not to go ahead with the offensive.

Turkey has long broached the idea of a military intervention into Afrin, one of the three cantons carved out by the YPG during the Syrian civil war.


France has called for a United Nations Security Council meeting over "humanitarian risks" as fighting escalates in Syria, its foreign minister said on Sunday in Algiers.

Turkey's state-run Anadolu news agency reported Friday afternoon that Russian military personnel in the Afrin area were withdrawing from their positions but Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov later issued a strong denial.

The YPG has been a key part of the battle against the Islamic State in Syria and has been backed by the United States.

Turkey has been particularly outraged by an announcement that the US planned to train 30,000 personnel in parts of northeast Syria under the control of the YPG-led Syrian Democratic Forces. Washington has backed the YPG, seeing it as an effective partner in the fight against Islamic State.

It was being carried out under the framework of Turkey's rights based on worldwide law, UN Security Council's decisions, self-defense rights under the UN charter and respect to Syria's territorial integrity, according to Turkish military.

Turkish troops first crossed into Syria after the Kurds captured Manbij in 2016, in part to prevent them from expanding westward and linking territory to Afrin.

Iran, a close ally of Assad, also condemned the Turkish assault and called on Turkey to end it.

A quarter of Syria land and 65 percent of Turkey-Syria border is under occupation of the terrorist organization. Some were stationed in Azaz, on the eastern edge of Afrin and others in Atmeh to the south.

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