Turkey advances into Afrin Syria, controls several villages

The two sides have been exchanging fire for several days now [Photo: AFP]
Turkish forces have captured a number of villages in north-western Syria, on the third day of an offensive to oust Kurdish fighters, Turkish media report.

Troops, accompanied by allied Syrian rebels, reportedly seized control of several areas in Afrin on Monday.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he would not “step back” in the assault following talks with Russia. Turkey considers the Kurdish YPG militia it is targeting in the region to be a terrorist group.

“We are determined, Afrin will be sorted out,” Mr Erdogan said in a live television broadcast in Ankara on Monday.

“We will take no step back,” he said, adding: “We spoke about this with our Russian friends; we have an agreement.”

The YPG, which controls much of north-eastern Syria, is believed by Turkey to be an extension of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which has fought for Kurdish autonomy in Turkey for three decades.

The YPG denies any direct links and is a crucial part of a US-backed alliance battling Islamic State (IS) jihadists in Syria.

Ankara has condemned the US for supporting the YPG and this latest development in the Syrian civil war puts Turkey on a collision course with its NATO ally.

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