Turkey Wants Afrin Offensive to End by May, Takes Control of Jinderes

Thursday, 8 March, 2018 - 16:15
Asharq Al-Awsat

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Thursday his government hopes that a cross-border military offensive launched on Jan. 20 in the Syrian Kurdish-held enclave of Afrin will end before May.

Speaking during a joint news conference with his Austrian counterpart, Cavusoglu told reporters in Vienna that Ankara wants the operation to end as fast as possible so that Afrin can "quickly embrace stability and civilians can return."

Turkey's state-run news agency said meanwhile that Turkish troops and allied Syrian opposition forces had seized control of the town of Jinderes in the enclave's southwest.

Anadolu added that operations to secure the area were continuing.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said that a siege of Afrin's main city would begin after Jinderes is taken from the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG).

Ankara on Wednesday asked Washington to stop Kurdish forces from moving to the area a day after the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) announced it would pull fighters out of areas of eastern Syria, where they have been fighting pockets of ISIS militants, in order to shore up defenses in Afrin.

The YPG forms the bulk of the SDF.

Turkey's assault in Afrin is aimed at driving out the Kurdish fighters that Ankara believes to be a security threat and as the Syrian branch of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), considered a terrorist group by Ankara, the US and the European Union.

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