Erdogan: Turkish Forces Have Complete Control of Afrin Center

Erdogan: Turkish Forces Have Complete Control of Afrin Center

Sunday, 18 March, 2018 - 08:30
Turkish tank advances toward Afrin, Syria. (AFP)
Asharq Al-Awsat
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced on Sunday that his country’s forces and their allied factions have seized complete control of the center of the Syrian town of Afrin.

The area was "entirely under control" and Turkish flags had been raised in the northern Syrian town, a stronghold of Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG).

A spokesman for Turkish-backed Syrian rebel fighters said earlier that the rebels had entered Afrin before dawn on Sunday, and that YPG forces had withdrawn.

Mohammad al-Hamadeen said the fighters entered Afrin shortly before dawn, from the north, east and west of the town, and had not encountered any resistance.

“They have taken control of parts of the town,” Hamadeen told Reuters. “They are combing the streets and the houses”.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Turkey-backed forces have taken control of half the town, with heavy fighting still underway.

Turkey had launched its operation in Afrin on January 20 in order to expel Kurdish fighters, whom it deems as terrorist, from its border with Syria.

Ankara says the YPG is an extension of a Kurdistan Workers' Party, which has been waging an insurgency in southeast Turkey since the 1980s.

More than 150,000 people have been displaced in the last few days from Afrin town, a senior Kurdish official and a monitoring group said on Saturday.

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