Turkish troops give health checks to Afrin civilians
Turkish troops give health checks to Afrin civilians
Turkish forces have surrounded Afrin city in Syria operation, says state media
14 March, 2018, 00:52
Turkish troops and allied Syrian rebels also captured "areas of critical importance" in the surrounding Afrin region, a statement said on March 13.
While attention in recent weeks has focused on a ferocious regime assault on rebel-held Ghouta, in Syria's north Turkish forces and allied Syrian rebels have been advancing in their offensive against the Kurdish enclave of Afrin.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based organisation that reports on the war, said Turkish forces and their Syrian militia allies had encircled an estimated 700,000 people in Afrin and nearby areas.
The operation is being carried out under the framework of Turkey's rights based on worldwide law, UN Security Council resolutions, its self-defence rights under the UN charter, and respect for Syria's territorial integrity, it said.
Speaking to reporters during a flight to Moscow, Cavusoglu said Turkey and the United States would decide on a detailed plan for the region in the coming week, vowing that Turkish forces would go ahead with a military operation if those talks fail.
Turkey launched a military offensive into the border enclave on January 20 to drive out YPG forces that it considers to be "terrorists" and an extension of Kurdish rebels fighting inside Turkey.
Ankara views the YPG as the Syrian branch of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) militant group that has been fighting for an autonomous region inside Turkey since 1984.
Azad Mohamed, a 32-year old resident, said his relatives were fired upon as they tried to escape Monday, forcing them to turn back.
Backed by Russian Federation, the advance has battered Eastern Ghouta with air strikes, artillery and rocket fire, raising widespread global concern and prompting urgent calls for a ceasefire.
Medical evacuations of sick and wounded patients from Eastern Ghouta began on Tuesday, according to Reuters.
President Tayyip Erdogan last week said Turkish forces had besieged Afrin town and were nearing its centre, but a YPG spokesman later denied this, saying the regions claimed to be under Turkish control were still battlegrounds.
An AFP reporter at the checkpoint saw Syrian Arab Crescent ambulances on standby.
Opposition activists say more than 1,100 civilians have been killed since the latest offensive began in February.
Worldwide efforts to end the offensive have largely failed. At least four people died in that attack, he added.
Thanks in large part to Russian military and diplomatic support, Assad's forces have managed to retake most of the territory seized by opposition fighters during the conflict.
Earlier Tuesday, Gerasimov said Moscow has "reliable information" that the militants in eastern Ghouta are preparing to stage a chemical attack and put the blame on the Syrian government, setting the stage for a USA strike.
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