Fears grow of a Syria-Turkey conflict

20 February, 2018, 18:31 | Author: Gregory Stephens
  • Syrian army to enter Afrin, help repel Turks, Kurdish official says

Turkey began its Afrin operation with allied Syrian rebels last month against the YPG, which Ankara regards as a threat to its border and terrorist group linked to the Kurdish PKK insurgency at home.

Syria's state news agency SANA, citing its correspondent in Aleppo, said that "popular forces will arrive in Afrin in the next few hours to support the steadfastness of its people in confronting the aggression which Turkish regime forces have launched on the region".

The Turkish foreign minister says his country is ready to battle Syrian government troops if they enter an enclave in northern Syria to protect Syrian Kurdish fighters. This suggested the Syrian government and Kurdish fighters - a militia known as YPG militia - have struck a deal under which the government forces would help repel an ongoing Turkish offensive on the enclave.

The YPG and the Syrian military have largely avoided each other in the seven-year Syrian Civil War.

On Monday, however, Syrian state media claimed that pro-government militias would shortly enter the area as a warning to the Turkish army.

Ankara views the YPG as a terrorist offshoot of the Kurdistan Workers´ Party (PKK), an insurgency in Turkey which is listed as a terror organisation by the U.S. and the European Union.

"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.


Jana Jabbour, a political science professor at Sciences Po university in Paris, said the Turks were "struggling to move forward" because of the "organisation of the Kurdish YPG forces and their combativeness". The YPG's ultimate aim is to establish an autonomous region in northern Syria by connecting the northwestern Afrin canton to the Kobani and Jazeera cantons in the northeast, which would provide the group access to the Mediterranean Sea.

The YPG has officially denied that they have agreed to Syrian troops entering the region, according to Kurdish outlet Rudaw.

Reports had circulated over the past days that regime forces would enter Afrin.

Together, Turkey's tanks and loyal FSA brigades set up...

Turkey will continue advancing towards Afrin with determination, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan reportedly told his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin during a phone call on Monday, according to sources at the president's office quoted by Hurriyet.

Syrian state TV reported that rebels fired dozens of mortar rounds and rockets at Damascus, wounding eight people.

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