Turkey forces 'encircle' Kurdish-controlled centre of Afrin


Turkey began attacking the militants, known as Peoples' Protection Units (YPG), in the nearby region of Afrin on January 19 after the USA announced plans to set up a 30,000-strong force with their help close to the Turkish border in Syria.

In addition to grave human rights violations against opposing Kurds, local Arabs and Turkmens in areas they control throughout northern Syria, YPG/PKK also forced local people into Afrin town center in order to use them as human shields against Turkish air and artillery strikes.

The surrounding of Afrin is a key step in Turkey's seven-week Olive Branch operation, launched on January 20 and aimed at ousting the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) from the Afrin region of northern Syria.

Speaking to reporters during a flight to Moscow, Cavusoglu said Turkey and the USA would decide on a detailed plan for the region in the coming week, vowing that Turkish forces would go ahead with a military operation if those talks fail.

Turkey is now undertaking an air and ground offensive in Syria as part of "Operation Olive Branch" against the YPG, Kurdish militias that have been affiliated to the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), a designated terror organisation that has launched continual attacks against Turkey. Some 1,000 other Daesh terrorists were killed trying to attack the Turkish camp in Iraq's Bashiqa, which was established near Mosul to train Iraq's Kurdistan Regional Government's (KRG) Peshmerga forces in their fight against Daesh and PKK terror groups. IS said it attacked troops in positions they took from rebels.

The Russian Defense Ministry said Gen. Valery Gerasimov called Gen. Joseph Dunford Tuesday to discuss the situation in the Damascus suburb of eastern Ghouta.

The military said in a brief statement that the siege of Afrin, the main town in the enclave, had begun Monday.

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Redur Xelil, the head of foreign relations in the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a YPG-dominated militia alliance, said Turkey was conducting a policy of "demographic change" in the area.

The government-run Central Military Media says buses and vans carrying more than 1,000 people left for the northern province of Idlib in implementation of a previous agreement between the army and the gunmen who controlled the Qadam district.

Syrian government forces captured more than half of eastern Ghouta over the past two weeks and laid a siege on the group's stronghold of Douma.

Thanks in large part to Russian military and diplomatic support, Assad's forces have managed to retake most of the territory seized by opposition fighters during the conflict.

The Observatory reported that evacuations of insurgents and their families began from another rebel-held pocket south of Damascus.

Opposition forces have denied holding talks with the regime.