Turkey said that the beginning of the siege of the Syrian Afrin

Elias Hubbard
March 14, 2018

The Turkish army and allied forces in Syria as part of operation "Olive branch" surrounded the city Afrin.

Since the launch of the operation, the Turkish military and FSA have liberated 217 locations, including five town centers, 180 villages, 37 strategic mountains and hills, and one YPG/PKK base.

The military said on Tuesday that forces encircled Afrin and also gained the control "areas of critical importance" in the region as of Monday.

Redur Xelil, head of foreign relations for the Syrian Democratic Forces, a US-backed alliance of fighters that includes the YPG, accused the Turkish forces of carrying out "demographic change" in Kurdish territory captured in Afrin.

It remains unclear what Turkey's next move will be, with some analysts suggesting it will be content to lay siege to Afrin for some time and allow civilians to leave to avoid a high-casualty offensive.

Afrin city - the main urban centre in the YPG-controlled enclave on the Turkish border - is home to around 350,000 people, the Observatory said.

Thousands of civilians are said to be fleeing towards areas controlled by pro-government forces in the province of Aleppo and the other areas controlled by the Kurdish PYD in northeast Syria.

Turkey's repeated threats to push to Manbij have caused complications with North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ally the U.S., which has its troops deployed in the area and is backing the YPG in the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS), a move that has infuriated Ankara.

Ankara is riled by USA support and arming of the Kurds, and accuses Washington of not fulfilling a promise to move the Syrian Kurdish fighters in Manbij east of the Euphrates River.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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