Afrin Day 20: No U.S. withdrawal from Manbij - General

15.55 West must spurn Turkey over Syrian intervention – French intellectual

Western countries must put drastic sanctions on Turkey in order not to be complicit in its actions during its offensive against the Kurdish-controlled Syrian enclave of Afrin, which amount to “ethnic cleansing”, French intellectual Bernard Henri Lévy wrote.

“This sad farce has gone on too long. Unless the West comes to its senses, 2018 will live in infamy as the year that Turkey dropped an iron curtain over the Kurdish people,” Lévy wrote.

14.47 Assad has gained from Turkey’s Afrin op - columnist

Syrian President Bashar Assad has been one of the principle beneficiaries of the Turkish operation in the Kurdish-held Syrian district of Afrin, journalist Seth Frantzman wrote in the Jerusalem Post.

“This leaves the regime with gains in northern Syria and new refugees, some fleeing the regime, and others fleeing the fighting in Afrin,” he said.

13.50 “You cannot eliminate terrorists with terrorists”, Turkey tells Trump

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan launched a tirade against opponents of his country’s military offensive against the Kurdish-held Syrian enclave of Afrin on Thursday, saying he had even told U.S. President Donald Trump that working with Kurdish militants was a bad idea, state news agency Anadolu said.

“I said ‘You cannot eliminate terrorists with terrorists, you are making a mistake, Mr. Trump’, but unfortunately he still looked to them (the People’s Protection Units - YPG),” he said. “OK, you go your way and we’ll go ours, we said.”

12.49 Syrian airspace remains closed to Turkey for fourth day

No Turkish Armed Forces helicopters or warplanes have entered Syrian airspace since Feb. 4, the day after a Russian plane was shot down in the area of Idlib, opposition newspaper Cumhuriyet said.

The newspaper cited a report saying that Russia was introducing a new air defence system and saying that the Turkish air force was expecting to be allowed back into Syria to support the ongoing Turkish military campaign in the Afrin region after the installation was completed.

12.18 Turkey using ISIS fighters for Afrin invasion – newspaper

Turkey is deploying Islamic State (ISIS) fighters to Afrin to help it fight the majority-Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) there, a former ISIS fighter told The Independent’s Middle East correspondent Patrick Cockburn.

“Turkey at the beginning of its operation tried to delude people by saying that it is fighting ISIS, but actually they are training ISIS members and sending them to Afrin,” he quoted the man, named Faraj, as saying.

12:15 U.S. coalition in Syria: If we're hit, we will respond aggressively

“You hit us, we will respond aggressively. We will defend ourselves,” the commander of the U.S.-led coalition in Syria says.

Coalition commanders speak from the U.S.-SDF frontline in Manbij, with Turkish-backed forces just yards away...

11.57 Turkey will have to destroy Syria’s Afrin to capture it - analyst

The demographics of the Kurdish-held Syrian town of Afrin mean that Turkey will have to destroy it if it wants to end resistance to its rule there, Syrian-origin American analyst Hassan Hassan wrote.

“The assault is particularly perplexing because its stated goal of expelling the militants and controlling the city appears too far-fetched,” he said.

08.28 Iran, Turkey discuss future of Syria

Iran's President Hassan Rouhani and Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu met in Tehran to discuss the direction of the Syrian civil war.

The state-run IRNA news agency cited Rouhani as telling Cavusoglu during their meeting on Wednesday that "fortunately, the tripartite relations between Iran, Turkey and Russia today are very important in regional affairs" and urged for "further consultation and cooperation" to "resolve the Syrian crisis."


01.50 U.S. Forces in Manbij to stay - top general

The top U.S. general in the coalition fighting the Islamic State (ISIS) has pledged that U.S. troops will stay in the north Syrian town of Manbij to support their Syrian Kurdish allies, the Military Times site reports.

Lt. Gen. Paul E. Funk made the remarks at a visit to U.S. forces stationed in Manbij on Wednesday, according to the news report.


(All times Turkish)

All updates about the nineteenth day of Turkey’s military operation on Syria’s Afrin are here.