Published: Mon, March 19, 2018
World | By Camille Rivera

Turkish-led assault on Syria's Afrin displaced 30000…

Turkish-led assault on Syria's Afrin displaced 30000…

"The center of the city of Afrin, today at 8:30 am, has passed under the full control of the "Free Syrian Army", which is backed by the Turkish Armed Forces", the President of Turkey said.

Turkey has been waging an offensive against Afrin since January and announced on Sunday that it has seized the town center.

The YPG denies any direct organisational links to the PKK - an assertion backed by the U.S., which is allied with the YPG in the battle against the terrorist group Islamic State (IS) in Syria. "The Syrian National Army inside Afrin city", one of them says to the camera.

Celebratory gunfire by FSA fighters in Afrin city.

Turkey will immediately take the necessary steps to make sure the residents of the city are able to return to their homes as soon as possible, he said. "Our job is not done yet, we have a lot more work".

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Turkey's offensive against Afrin began on January 20th, and the Associated Press reports it slowly pushed the Kurdish militia and civilians into the town center.

In video footage recorded by Turkish soldiers following the victory, a Turkish commander said: "This is a gift primarily to those who were martyred on March 18, and also for 46 [Turkish Armed Forces] personnel, as well as Free Syrian Army soldiers martyred in this operation, especially for specialized sergeant Sukru Unlu and Major Mithat Dunca".

Afrin appeared largely empty.

It added that while nearly 200,000 people had fled the area in recent days amid heavy airstrikes, thousands of civilians remained. "There was an endless line along the road", he said.

Mohamed said he anxious he will not be able to return home.

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Issa, the Kurdish official, said more than 800 YPG fighters have been killed in the 58 days of fighting, and estimated that 500 civilians were killed.

Erdogan says Turkish rebels have taken "total" control of the centre of Afrin. A war monitor, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said pockets of YPG fighters were defying orders to withdraw, but Turkish forces were in control. The Observatory puts the number of casualties at over 280 civilians, adding that more than 1,500 Kurdish fighters have been killed since Jan.20.

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

Turkey views Kurdish forces in the Afrin area as terrorists linked to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK.

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