wnol.info March 24 2018

Turkey Shells Kurdish-held Region in Syria as Assad Loyalists Arrive

March 24 2018, 07:48 | Irvin Gilbert

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Syrian state media on Monday said that pro-Damascus forces would head to Afrin to "join the resistance against the Turkish aggression".

Later, President Tayyip Erdogan's spokesman warned that if pro-Syrian government forces entering the northwest Afrin region to support a Kurdish militia there will face "serious consequences" and they will be regarded as legitimate targets.

The US has been working closely with the YPG against the Islamic State extremist group in Syria, sparking anger in Ankara.

The military units of Ankara continue with their offensive in Afrin, which began on January 20, despite the fact that the Damascus authorities repeatedly demanded their withdrawal from the northern territories, an inalienable part of this Arab country.

"A dozen or so pick-up trucks had come to advance toward Afrin".

The PKK has waged a three-decade insurgency against the Turkish state and is classed as a terror group by Ankara and its Western allies.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the convoy was made up of Shia militiamen acting independently, adding that he had earlier persuaded the Syrian government's main allies, Russian Federation and Iran, to stop any troops being deployed. "They would pay a heavy price for it", he added.

For Turks this was not surprising, but it is alarming.

Turkey is determined to press ahead with its offensive to drive Kurdish fighters known as People's Protection Unit, or YPG, out of Afrin. But many argue Turkey would need Russia's backing in order to avoid confronting Syrian troops along with the YPG.

Turkey has called for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's ouster and supported opposition fighters throughout the seven-year conflict.

Russia's chief objectives in Syria are to bolster President Bashar al-Assad and maximize the territory he controls in order to weaken the US and divide NATO, Skinner said.

Turkey has in recent months lent support to diplomacy by Russian Federation, whose firepower helped Assad's government seize back most major cities from rebels and militants since 2015.

Two Turkish servicemen were killed near the Turkish-Iraqi border as a result of an explosion of a booby trap staged by members of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), banned in the country, the General Staff of the Turkish Armed Forces said on Wednesday in a statement.

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