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Turkey Forces Seize Syrian Town of Afrin
Turkey Forces Seize Syrian Town of Afrin

Turkey Forces Seize Syrian Town of Afrin

Turkey Forces Seize Syrian Town of Afrin

Turkey’s president said Sunday the Turkish military and allied Syrian forces have taken “total” control of the town center of Afrin, the target of a nearly two-month-old offensive against a Syrian Kurdish militia, which said fighting was still underway.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the Turkish flag and the flag of the Syrian opposition fighters have been raised in the town, previously controlled by the Kurdish militia known as the People’s Defense Units, or YPG, AP reported.
“Many of the terrorists had turned tail and run away already,” Erdogan said in a speech in western Turkey.
Turkey views the US-backed Kurdish forces in the Afrin enclave along the border as terrorists linked to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, which has waged a decades-long insurgency within Turkey’s borders.
Ankara launched the operation, codenamed Olive Branch, against the town and surrounding areas on Jan. 20, slowly squeezing the militia and hundreds of thousands of civilians into the town center. Forty six Turkish soldiers have been killed since then.
A Kurdish official, Hadia Yousef, said the YPG was still fighting inside the town, but had evacuated the remaining civilians because of “massacres.” But Salih Muslim, a senior Kurdish official living in exile in Europe, tweeted that Kurdish fighters had withdrawn, saying, “the struggle will continue and the Kurdish people will keep defending themselves.”
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said nearly 200,000 people have fled the Afrin region in recent days amid heavy airstrikes, entering Syrian government-held territory nearby. Syrian State TV on Sunday broadcast footage of a long line of vehicles and civilians on foot leaving Afrin. Erdogan has said the people of Afrin will return.
Turkey’s military meanwhile tweeted that its forces are now conducting combing operations to search for land mines and explosives. Government spokesman Bekir Bozdag tweeted that Turkey would take steps to restore daily life and ensure access to food and health care. “Our job is not done yet, we have a lot more work. But terror and terrorists in Afrin are over,” he said.
The army posted a video on social media showing a soldier holding a Turkish flag and a man waving the Syrian opposition flag on the balcony of the district parliament building with a tank stationed on the street. The soldier called the capture a “gift” to the Turkish nation and to fallen soldiers on the anniversary of a famous World War I victory.

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