Turkey continues Syria offensive, hits 150 targets in Afrin
Turkey pushes ahead with its operation against US-backed Kurdish militants based in Afrin, saying its forces have crossed into the northwestern Syrian city and hit over 150 Kurdish militant targets so far.
Turkish media quoted Prime Minister Binali Yildirim as saying that the military forces had entered Afrin from the Turkish village of Gulbaba at 08:05 GMT on Sunday, the second day of the campaign.
He was also quoted as saying that the Turkish army aims to create a 30-kilometrer safe zone in Afrin.
Turkey launched the so-called Operation Olive Branch on Saturday in a bid to eliminate the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), which Ankara views as a terror organization and the Syrian branch of the outlawed Kurdish Workers Party (PKK).
Turkey-US ties have hit a new low over Washington’s support for the anti-Damascus Kurdish militants operating at the Turkish doorstep.
The operation was launched days after Washington said it would work with the Kurdish militants to set up a 30,000-strong border force near Turkish soil.
However, the YPG dismissed Yildirim’s claim, saying Turkish troops had tried to enter Afrin, but were forced back.
Birusk Hasaka, the YPG spokesman in Afrin, said the Turkish forces were repulsed following fierce clashes.
Nouri Mahmoudi, another YPG official, also said “all the Turkish military’s ground attacks against Afrin have been repelled so far and they have been forced to retreat.”
Meanwhile, the Turkish army said in a statement that it had targeted 153 hideouts, shelters and arsenals used by the Kurdish militants, adding that artillery fire continued from the ground.
Footage released on Sunday showed Turkish military convoys on the Syrian border.
The YPG said Turkey's strikes had killed six civilians and three of its members, and injured 13 civilians.
Earlier in the day, Turkish media reported four rockets fired from Syria had hit the Turkish southern border town of Kilis, wounding one person and causing damage to houses there.
Turkish security forces retaliated in kind, the reports said.
Damascus has strongly condemned the most recent in a series of Turkish transgressions against Syrian sovereignty.