Syria's Kurds vow to fight until Afrin is liberated
Mar 19, 2018, 00:46
Syrian Turkish-backed forces went on the rampage in Afrin on Sunday, pillaging shops and homes after taking control of the northern city, AFP correspondents and a monitor said.
Earlier, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced that Turkish army troopers and their allies had wrested full control over Afrin town.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said almost 200,000 people have fled the Afrin region in recent days amid heavy airstrikes, entering Syrian government-held territory nearby.
"Afrin city center is under control", said a statement released by Turkish Armed Forces, adding that "search operation for mines and improvised explosive devices is underway".
France's foreign minister said Turkey's concerns for its border security did not justify "the deep incursion of Turkish troops in the Afrin zone", which could also weaken global action against remaining Islamic State fighters in Syria.
This is while USA officials regard the YPG as the most effective fighting force against the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group in northern Syria, and have substantially increased their weaponry and technology support to the group.
The soldier called the capture a "gift" to the Turkish nation and to fallen soldiers on the 103rd anniversary of a famous First World War victory - the battle of Gallipoli, where the Ottoman Empire repelled an invasion by Allied forces after several months of heavy fighting.
The flags of Turkey and Syrian rebel groups were raised in the city and a statue of Kurdish hero Kawa, a symbol of resistance against oppressors, was torn down. "My thanks for them", Lutfiye Dunca, the wife of 43-years old Mithat Dunca - a Turkish soldier martyred in Turkey's ongoing operation in Afrin on Saturday.
Analysts said if the capture of Afrin city is the main target of the Turkish incursion, there are more risks ahead for the military.
A Turkish victory in Afrin could push the U.S.to ensure that Kurdish fighters withdraw from the town of Manbij to the east of the Euphrates River, Agar noted.
"Our military forces will continue to fight, " she said. Erdogan has said the people of Afrin will return.
"We have more to do".
Ankara said the demand did not apply to Afrin, but its operation has faced criticism in the West. But a growing number of witness accounts and social media posts indicated that the Free Syrian Army had entered.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says more than 280 civilians have been killed since the campaign began on January 20 - including 16 at a hospital on Friday.
Turkey also fears the establishment of a Kurdish self-ruled zone in Syria that could inspire its own Kurdish minority to press for greater autonomy.
The operation is being carried out under the framework of Turkey's rights based on worldwide law, UN Security Council resolutions, its self-defense rights under the UN charter, and respect for Syria's territorial integrity, it said. A peace process with the PKK collapsed in 2015, reigniting a conflict that has killed tens of thousands over more than three decades.
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