Jan 20 2018

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.

Earlier today, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said “the Afrin operation has de facto begun in the field. Following this will come Manbij,” pointing to the northern Syrian province, which is also under the control of Syrian Kurdish militia.

Turkey sees the YPG as a terrorist organisation, sister to the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) separatists fighting in Turkey’s mainly Kurdish southeast since 1984.

Syrian Kurdish forces are the backbone of the U.S.-led coalition’s fight against the extremist jihadist Islamic State. Ankara has protested to Washington for its support to the Kurdish militia in Syria.