Ankara has no option but to carry out a military op in the Syrian enclave of Afrin, Turkey’s defense minister said. The operation has ‘de facto started’ with cross-border shelling, he added.
Turkey would continue discussing its operation in Afrin with Russia, Nurettin Canikli said on Friday in an interview with broadcaster AHaber.
The Kurdish YPG militias confirmed the Turkish minister’s announcement of the shelling in Afrin region, saying it has started around midnight and continued into Friday morning and targeted Kurdish villages.
The Turkish government considers Kurdish militias in Syria to be an extension of the militant movement, the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which is seen as a terrorist organization by Ankara.
Last week’s news that Washington was training the predominantly Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) to form a 30,000-strong “border force” based in Afrin infuriated the Turks. The US has since backtracked on the announcement in an apparent attempt to defuse Turkish anger, but belligerent statements from Ankara have continued.
Meanwhile, the Syrian government warned on Thursday that it may shoot down Turkish warplanes delivering airstrikes on its territory. Damascus said its air defenses have been restored and are ready to defend the nation’s sovereignty.
Turkish Kurds protested against the planned intervention, taking to the streets in their thousands and chanting slogans like “Afrin will be your graveyard.”
Source : News Agencies