Feb 19 2018

Syrian forces set to enter besieged Afrin – agency

Forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad are to enter the northwestern district of Afrin, under siege by Turkish forces, in the coming hours after reaching an agreement with Kurdish forces that control the area, Syrian state media said.

Should Syrian government forces enter Afrin, it would re-establish a Syrian government presence along border with Turkey, which has actively supported a range of armed groups intent on overthrowing Assad’s government.

“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,” Syrian state news agency SANA said Monday.

A senior Syrian Kurdish official said on Sunday that Kurdish forces had reached a deal for the Syrian army to enter Afrin, following talks with the Syrian government, adding that it could be implemented within days.

Turkish daily Haberturk said on Monday that Syrian government forces could deploy to more than 50 locations in Afrin within the next week.

The mainly Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) has controlled Afrin since 2012, following the withdrawal of Syrian government forces and has been fighting off a Turkish-led incursion into the region that began a month ago.

Although it has previously denounced what it called Ankara's aggression in Afrin, the Syrian government had not, until Monday, explicitly stated it would intervene.