Syria vows to down Turkish warplanes as Turkey prepares to assault Kurds in Afrin

Turkish army says YPG fighters fired rockets across the border, prompting retaliation by Turkish forces. [Photo: Internet]
Syria has threatened to shoot down Turkish warplanes in its airspace, as Turkey prepares to carry out a possible assault on a Kurdish enclave.

Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad said any incursion into Afrin would be considered an act of aggression, BBC wrote Thursday.

It came as Turkey sought clearance for an air campaign from the Syrian government’s allies, Russia and Iran. Tanks are already massed on the border near Afrin, which is held by Kurdish fighters Turkey considers terrorists, BBC added.

Kurdish leaders have promised to defend the enclave and urged the international community to prevent Turkey targeting what they said were its one million residents.

Turkey has for months said it would clear fighters from the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) from Afrin. It sees the militia as an extension of the banned Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has fought for Kurdish autonomy in Turkey, BBC added.

According to the BBC, YPG denies any direct links – an assertion backed by a US-led coalition whose air strikes and special forces have helped the militia and allied Arab fighters drive Islamic State militants from tens of thousands of square kilometres of Syria.

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