Syria war: Pro-government forces enter Kurdish-held Afrin

Recep Tayyip Erdoğan

Recep Tayyip Erdoğan

Ankara on January 20 launched a cross-border air and ground operation in northern Syria supporting Syrian rebels against the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) militia.

The government has denounced the Turkish offensive as a "blatant attack" on its sovereignty.

He asserted that the Kurdish self-governing administration in Afrin will not be compromised.

A military media unit run by Lebanon's Hezbollah movement - an ally of the Syrian government - posted photos and video of men brandishing Syrian flags passing through a checkpoint on a number of pick-up trucks and lorries mounted with heavy weapons.

"Soon, the terrorists in all of Afrin will be given the punishment they deserve".

Turkey will not stop the Operation Olive Branch even if the so-called Syrian government forces enter Afrin, Ibrahim Kalin, spokesman for the Turkish president, said February 21. Unfortunately, terrorist groups like these sometimes make missteps according to their own decisions.

Does this risk a wider escalation?

For more than a month, Turkey has been launching attacks on the YPG in Afrin.

"Any step by the regime or other elements in this direction will surely have serious consequences", presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin told reporters.

The YPG has controlled Afrin since 2012 after Syrian government forces withdrew from the Kurdish-majority area.

Kalin said the fire targeting the Syrian forces was "warning shots", warning that Ankara would continue to attack Syrian forces if they again support the Kurds.

As Damascus and Turkey were on the verge of triggering off a military clash, Russian Federation was speeding its steps to avoid any confrontation between both forces.

He added that the militias were forced to go back after artillery shooting.

The UN says more than 300,000 people have been displaced by the fighting in Idlib since December, while nearly 200 civilians are reported to have been killed in government air and artillery strikes on the Eastern Ghouta since Monday.

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