Turkey steps up assault on Kurdish militia in Syria

Lester Mason
January 23, 2018

One Turkish soldier has been killed in clashes with terrorist groups during Operation Olive Branch in Turkey's border province of Kilis, near Syria's Afrin region, the Turkish General Staff said Monday.

AP journalists at Hassa, a Turkish village on the border, saw at least eight tanks and five armored vehicles along with trucks preparing to cross into Syria. Besides, the territories controlled by the mainly Kurdish forces, in Northern Syria, close to the border with Turkey, are de facto largely autonomous.

Speaking in Ankara Monday, Erdogan asked the US: "Why are you fighting against ISIS with another terrorist organization?"

The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which incorporate several militias, including Kurdish ones, said that three SDF fighters died in the first three days of the Turkish campaign. "Why not carry it out with your strategic partner?"

"We discussed this with our Russian friends, we have an agreement with them, and we also discussed it with other coalition forces and the United States".

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs expresses its grave concern with regard to the incidents that took place earlier today in occupied Nicosia against the Turkish Cypriot Afrika newspaper. "We recognize and fully appreciate Turkey's legitimate right to protect its own citizens from terrorist elements that may be launching attacks against Turkish citizens and Turkish soil from Syria", Tillerson told journalists, alongside his United Kingdom counterpart Boris Johnson.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson urges restraint on all sides.

Earlier in the day, as he traveled to London, Tillerson was asked if the conflict was amounting to a clash between two North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies.

There is growing worldwide concern that the Turkish offensive could ignite yet another humanitarian crisis in Syria.

Rodi Osman, a representative of Syrian Kurdistan to Russian Federation, said Monday that 17 civilians had been killed and 28 had suffered injuries as airstrikes and clashes continued in Afrin.

"Turkey can not tolerate even an embryo of the Kurdish state as it is crucial for its territorial integrity", the French politician said.

The unfortunate part of the story is that the Kurds have been heavily armed by the United States Government in the past, and the U.S. led coalition has previously been using Kurdish Peshmerga forces as the literal infantry units fighting on the front-lines to re-capture and liberate cities in the War against terrorism.

The top United Nations official in Syria, Ali Al-Za'tari, said the global body is closely following events and is ready to help civilians who might leave the enclave.

But Erdogan has indicated the incursion could broaden, vowing on Saturday to "annihilate the terror corridor up to the Iraqi border".

"The Caliphate, as the goal of ISIS [the former name of the outlawed in Russian Federation terrorist group Islamic State - TASS] has failed to materialize, but the task of crushing separate hotbeds of terrorism still remains", Lavrov said.

And the outbreak of fighting between the Turks and the Kurds just might give ISIS enough breathing room to regroup.

The Kurdish forces say Turkey's operation amounts to supporting IS and urge their Western allies to act.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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