Published: Wed, January 31, 2018
World Media | By Shelia Harmon

649 militants 'neutralized' in Turkey's operation in Syria's Afrin

649 militants 'neutralized' in Turkey's operation in Syria's Afrin

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has accused the association of betrayal and its members of being "terrorist lovers" after the organization warned of the humanitarian costs of Ankara's operation into the Syrian Kurdish enclave of Afrin, launched on January 20.

Turkish authorities have cracked down on public expressions of dissent about the ground offensive against the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says Turkey's incursion into a Kurdish-held enclave in Syria is progressing "successfully" and will continue until the last "terrorist" is eliminated.

The Turkish assault on Afrin has exposed the ambivalence of the relationship between the Kurds and Assad, who does not see the minority as a direct threat but resents their emancipation.

What they have asked for during a Russian-sponsored meeting is the deployment of federal Syrian forces along the border with Turkey. Speaking on Sunday, President Erdogan said the campaign could now be extended to other parts of the 500-mile Turkish-Syrian border, to create a 20-mile "security zone".

"Surrendering Afrin to the Syrian regime, that's impossible", he said, adding however that the regime has yet to give a formal reply.

Last week the Pentagon said it is carefully tracking Turkish military moves toward the Syrian town of Manbij, 60 miles east of Afrin and where the US has forces on the ground.

So far Damascus has only condemned the Afrin assault as a "brutal Turkish aggression".

Syrian official Ghassan al-Qalaa said: "I call you upon in the name of millions of Syrian to have mercy upon our country".

A Turkish attack on Manbij could lead to US soldiers being caught in the fighting between Turkish troops and the USA -backed Kurdish militia.

As many as 311 people were detained in the past week for allegedly engaging in "terrorist propaganda" through social media postings critical of the military operation.

"Maybe they want Kurdish forces further weakened", the analyst Civiroglu said.

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