Syrian Kurds aim to remove Turkey from Afrin by force - commander

The main U.S.-allied Kurdish militia in northern Syria expects to soon launch a military operation to liberate Afrin from Turkey and its proxies, the militia’s commander said in a televised interview.

“We are preparing and making arrangements in order to liberate Afrin,” Ferhat Abdi Şahin, general commander of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), told Kurdish Sterk TV last week, according to the military news site SouthFront. “Because this is a military matter, everyone should know that when the time is suitable, the liberation phase will begin.”

The SDF has been the primary local militia in the U.S.-led coalition against the Islamic State (ISIS), and cleared the last ISIS stronghold last week.

The Turkish military and its Syrian proxies took over Afrin in the beginning of 2018 following a short battle with Kurdish forces. In February, the SDF vowed to focus on liberating Afrin after the defeat of ISIS.

Şahin added that all SDF groups, including Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) and the Women’s Protection Units (YPJ), had confirmed their readiness to participate in the liberation.

“Afrin is not only a Kurdish area, but a Syrian area,” he said. “It’s within the SDF’s mission to protect all Syria territory.”