Published: Mon, March 05, 2018
World | By Camille Rivera

2612 terrorists 'neutralized' in Syria's Afrin, military says

2612 terrorists 'neutralized' in Syria's Afrin, military says

Complicating matters, fighters loyal to Syria's government entered Afrin late last month to support the Syrian Kurdish militia, raising the spectre of a possible confrontation between Turkish and pro-government Syrian troops.

The strike targeted a camp in Kafr Jina on Saturday, the third time in 48 hours Turkish warplanes launched attacks on pro-government forces in Afrin, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. It did not specify a location and did not give a death toll.

They came after Turkish raids on other parts of the enclave killed 14 pro-government fighters on Thursday and four more on Friday, the monitor said.

Turkey, Russia and Iran, as guarantor countries of the Astana Agreement aiming to enhance and sustain a cease fire between the Syrian regime and the opposition, are due to meet in Istanbul in the coming weeks.

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Ankara is fiercely opposed to the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, which is dominated by the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) - considered by the Turkish government to be a terrorist group.

The offensive has heightened tensions between Turkey and its North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ally, the USA, which backs the YPG fighting against Islamic State militants in eastern Syria.

The military also said only terror targets are being destroyed and that "utmost care" is being taken to avoid harming civilians.

Thousands of civilians have fled their homes since the start of the operation, either to the town of Afrin or to nearby government-controlled areas.

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Two members of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) were also killed and some are wounded, while anti-aircraft weapons and the YPG personnel using them were neutralized as a result of heavy strikes, he added.

In a statement, the Turkish General Staff said the Turkish Armed Forces and Free Syrian Army (FSA) liberated seven villages and a mountain from YPG/PKK-Daesh terrorists and took control of a town center.

Ankara says YPG is a terrorist extension of Kurdistan Workers' Party which has waged an insurgency against the Turkish state.

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