ANKARA: Turkey’s military and its rebel associates have surrounded the northern Syrian town of Afrin, the Turkish armed forces stated on Tuesday, marking as substantial growth in Turkey’s offensive against Kurdish fighters throughout its southern border.
Turkey launched its operation, dubbed “Olive Branch,” in northern Syria nearly two months ago to clean the Syrian Kurdish YPG from the Turkish border. Turkey sees the YPG as a terrorist group and an extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).
The forces surrounded Afrin town and also seized “areas of critical importance” in the region as of Monday, the Turkish military mentioned in a statement.
On Monday, a Turkish government spokesman stated that the armed forces had acquired control of more than half the area and vowed to clear the Afrin town of militants.
President Tayyip Erdogan last week mentioned that the Turkish forces had encircled the Afrin town and were nearing its town center, but a YPG spokesman later refused this fact, saying the regions claimed to be under Turkish power were still battlegrounds.
Since the start of its offensive, Turkey has also intimidated to push its military operations to Manbij, further east, to drive Syrian Kurdish fighters from the length of its borders.
Turkey’s continuous threats to push to Manbij have created complications with NATO ally the United States, which has its troops located in the area and is backing the YPG in the fight against Islamic State, a move that has infuriated Ankara.
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