March 21, 2018

Turkey, Free Syrian Army make advances in Afrin

12 March 2018, 09:03 | Kara Nash

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan

Managing alliances in Syria has always been a struggle for the United States, as underscored by how often two US-armed allies end up directly fighting one another. We're fighting so much.

In mid-February, Turkey marked 66 years of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation membership.

"What the Kurds are saying with this human shield is that "we dare you to consider the humanitarian issues".

The 50,000-strong YPG has allied with the U.S. in eradicating the Islamic State group from northern Syria and have been armed by the USA since May 2017.

The Turkish Armed Forces and Free Syrian Army (FSA) liberated five more villages in Syria's northwestern Afrin region on Sunday.

Intense clashes as FSA TAF liberate five additional towns in Afrin

However, it remains to be seen if the USA allows Turkey to continue with its offensive or intervenes to protect the force that is vital to maintaining control of huge swathes of ungoverned Syria. "But seeing Turkey's adamant position, they did not find [the] resolve to do so", the president said. Erdogan said Turkey sent troops to conflict zones when requested, but did not receive support in return.

Washington has repeatedly called upon Turkey to stop its "aggression" against the Afrin region, omitting the fact that the US-led coalition itself spent years in Syria without any invitation from the government or global approval.

The recent UNSC resolution, which urged a 30-days Syria-wide ceasefire, has been also used to call upon Erdogan to halt their operations.

The YPG too denies any direct organisational links to Turkey's PKK- an assertion backed by a US -led coalition whose air strikes have helped the militia and allied Arab fighters drive Islamic State militants out of tens of thousands of square kilometres of Syria.

"The number of neutralized terrorists in Afrin has risen to 3,213". The document, however, only stated that the ceasefire did not apply to such groups as Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIL/ISIS), Al-Qaeda and Al-Nusra front, and did not describe any Kurdish militias as terrorists.

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