Jan 20 2018

Day 1: Turkey’s military operation on Syria’s Afrin (updates)

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

The below are all updates about the first day of Turkey’s military operation on Syria’s Afrin:


00:36 10 people killed in Afrin, mostly civilians - Kurdish militia

Turkish attacks in the Afrin region of northern Syria killed ten people on Saturday, mostly civilians, a spokesman for the Kurdish militia which controls the area said. 

"Seven civilians were killed, including a child, as well as two female fighters and one male fighter," said Birusk Hasakeh, spokesman for the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) in Afrin, adding that the child was an eight-year-old boy. 

The YPG's political branch, the Democratic Union Party (PYD), said earlier on Saturday that 25 civilians had been wounded in the Turkish bombing.

Ankara also said there were casualties but were all Kurdish militants.

Afrin, a hilly region that falls in Syria's northern Aleppo province, is home to more than a million people including displaced families.

23:45 6 civilians died, 13 injured in Turkey’s operation – YPG

Syrian Kurdish militia in Afrin said six civilians died and 13 injured during Turkish airstrikes near villages and Afrin town centre, three of the injured are in critical condition.

Three Kurdish militants from the People’s Protection Units (YPG) also died during the attacks, a statement published by Kurdish news agency ANF said.

23:40 [Turkish local time] Pentagon to Ahval: "Avoid Escalation"

The Pentagon spokesperson Major Adrian Rankine-Galloway, when asked about the comments with regards to Turkish operation into Afrin, sent a statement via email:

“We encourage all parties to avoid escalation and to focus on the most important task of defeating ISIS.

 We recognize Turkey's security concerns about the PKK, a US-designated foreign terrorist organization. The US does not provide any support to PKK.

The US-led Coalition does not have operations ongoing in Afrin because it is focused on military operations against ISIS.”

23:32 Turkish tanks enter Syria

Turkish tanks are going through the border post of Öncüpınar into Syria.

Turkish PM Binali Yıldırım said:

“Turkish airstrikes destroyed almost all targets today. Ground forces will take necessary steps tomorrow depending on the progress of the situation.”

23:20 Turkish jets returned to base after end of airstrikes, no civilians harmed – Turkish official

According to Turkish administration officials, 72 Turkish jets participated the Afrin operation, dubbed ‘Olive Branch.’

108 out of 113 targets were hit during the airstrikes, Turkish officials quoted by the state-run news agency Anadolu said.

Turkish officials said no civilians were harmed during the operations, all the deaths and injured were militants.

23:15 U.S. statement to Ahval: "We are closely following the situation"

U.S. State Department official stated in an email message to Ahval, on Turkey's military operation in Afrin:

“We are closely following the situation and are urging against further escalation. We are in touch with all parties to deliver our message: the focus must be on the fight against ISIS, which remains a threat to us all.”

As the Turkish ground forces appear to be getting ready to make a big incursion into Syria, it remains to be seen how the Washington administration would react to ground operation.

22:12 Syria strongly condemns Turkish aggression on Afrin

Syria strongly condemned the Turkish aggression on the city of Afrin, calling on the international community to take steps to stop it immediately.

Turkey's claims about notifying Syria of the operation are series of lies that the Turkish government continues to spout, a Syrian foreign Mministry official was quoted by state news agency SANA.

21:17 Russia blames U.S. ‘provocation’ for Turkey’s operation on Syrian Kurdish area 

Moscow said Washington’s steps to create isolated Kurdish areas led to Ankara’s military operation.

The Russian Defence Ministry said:

“The Pentagon’s uncontrolled supply of modern weapons to pro-American forces in northern Syria, including, according to available information, portable anti-aircraft missile systems, contributed to the rapid escalation of tension in the region and led to a special operation by the Turkish troops.”

19:42 Russia voices “concern” over Turkey’s military operation in Syria, pulls troops

Russia voiced concern and called restraint over Turkey’s military operation northwestern Syrian enclave of Afrin, and responded by withdrawing its troops from the region.

“Moscow is concerned at this news. We call on the opposing parties to show restraint,” the foreign ministry said in a statement quoted by AFP.

19:20 Turkish FM speaks with U.S. Secretary of State on the phone

Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu spoke by phone with U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Saturday, Turkey’s state-run news agency Anadolu (AA) reported.

Turkish ministry of foreign affairs also summoned U.S., Russia and Iran’s envoys on Saturday, and informed them about “latest developments in Afrin,” AA said.

 

17:35 Turkish army names Afrin offensive as “Olive Branch”

Turkish army said “Operation Olive Branch” is launched in Afrin region in the northwestern part of Syria “to ensure security and stability” on Turkey’s borders and in the region.

“The Turkish Armed Forces are trying to neutralise the terrorists,” the statement published on Turkish Armed Forces website read.

The operation respects Syria’s territorial integrity and takes precautions to avoid loss of civilian life, it said.

17:16 Turkey launches Afrin offensive with airstrikes

Turkish jets crossed the Turkey-Syria border and bombed observation posts held by Syrian Kurdish militia in the northwestern enclave of Afrin, Turkey’s state-run news agency Anadolu reported.

Turkey-backed Syrian rebel forces from the Free Syrian Army (FSA) also begun entering the areas held by Syrian Kurdish militia, People’s Protection Units (YPG), it said.

15:36 Afrin operation has de facto begun - Erdoğan

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan told a crowd of supporters at his party’s provincial congress in Kütahya that his country’s military invasion of the majority-Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG)-controlled Syrian canton of Afrin had already in effect started, state news agency Anadolu said .

“The Afrin operation has de facto begun in the field,” Erdoğan said. “Following this will come Manbij.”

(All times Turkish local.)