February 18, 2018

Turkey launches airstrikes in Syria against US-backed Kurdish fighters

23 January 2018, 02:15 | Rex Hubbard

Tillerson says US has no intention to construct border…

Amid spat with Turkey, Tillerson denies Syria border drive

After the Turkish General Staff has announced the launch of the operation dubbed the "Olive Branch" in Afrin against the PKK and the YPG on Saturday, the SDF expressed readiness to "defend ourselves and our people".

"Naturally in light of the Turkish attack on our areas and the Russian collusion with them (Turkey), and the Russian support for them, Sochi no longer has any meaning in order to participate in it", he added.

Turkey's shelling and subsequent invasion of the city of Afrin, a Kurdish enclave near Syria's border with Turkey, comes despite Kurdish People's Protection troops playing a key role in the USA -led effort to push ISIS out of Syria.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights has said a total of 22 Syrian civilians have been killed by Turkish strikes and two more by Kurdish fire during the operation.

The second issue, Mogherini said, was that the offensive "can undermine seriously the resumption of talks in Geneva, which is what we believe could really bring sustainable peace and security for Syria".

"As the first step to take, they can stop arming terror groups and take back weapons already given".

Tillerson said: "We have five key goals in Syria".

Turkey's military operation, dubbed "Olive Branch", has put the entire region on the brink of another crisis and outraged most of the Middle East.

France calls for a UN Security Council meeting and calls on Turkey to end its offensive.

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Sener Levent said his newspaper Afrika won't be silenced in calling out Turkey's policies either in the breakaway north of ethnically-split Cyprus or elsewhere.

"They have proven their effectiveness", Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told reporters Sunday en route to Southeast Asia.

Merely "terrorists" were targeted, the minister said, noting that the injured were also members of the YPG, according to information gathered from the ground.

"I have to admit, I initially suspected perhaps there would be some cross-border shelling, but they would not go as far as airstrikes or a ground invasion". The statement falls short of an outright condemnation and shows the complex nature of Syria's civil war.

Turkey sees the Syrian Kurdish fighters as linked to insurgents waging a battle for Kurdish autonomy at home.

But Ankara has denied inflicting civilian casualties, with Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu accusing the YPG of sending out "nonsense propaganda and baseless lies".

Plans for the operation are believed to have accelerated when USA officials said earlier this month that it would help the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) alliance, which is dominated by the YPG, build a new "border security force" to prevent the return of IS.

Fighters from this ethnic group have played a considerable role in the shrinking of IS, both in Syria as well as in Iraq.

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