Turkish troops enter Syria to fight Kurdish militia

Turkish ground troops entered Syria on Sunday to push an offensive against Kurdish militia as rocket fire hit a border town in apparent retaliation.

Turkey on Saturday launched operation “Olive Branch” seeking to oust from the Afrin region of northern Syria the Peoples’ Protection Units (YPG), which Ankara considers a terror group.

But the campaign risks further increasing tensions with Turkey’s NATO ally the U.S. — which has supported the YPG in the fight against Islamic State jihadists — and also needs at least the tacit support of Russia to succeed.

Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said troops crossed into the YPG-controlled region in Syria at 08.05 a.m. GMT, the Dogan news agency reported.

Turkish artillery and war planes pounded YPG sites around Afrin and a total of 153 targets, including YPG refuges and weapons stores have now been hit, according to the Army.

In a sign of risk to Turkey, four rockets fired by the YPG hit the border town of Kilis early on Sunday, damaging one building and lightly wounding a woman.

“No one lost their life,” Kilis Governor Mehmet Tekinarslan said, quoted by Dogan. “They can fire one rocket at us and we will fire 100 back. There is no need to worry.”

Other countries react

Turkey risks entering a diplomatic minefield with its action in Syria and the Foreign Ministry lost no time in inviting the Ambassadors of all major powers to be briefed on the offensive.

The Ministry said it had even informed Damascus through its Istanbul consulate. But the Syrian regime, which is at odds with Turkey, strongly denied this, denouncing the operation as a “brutal Turkish aggression”.

The Russian Foreign Ministry voiced concern and urged Turkey to show restraint. And the Defence Ministry said its troops were withdrawing from the Afrin area to ensure their security and prevent any “provocation”.

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Printable version | Jul 29, 2021 1:51:32 PM |

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