Turkey Begins Military Operation Against US-Allied Kurds in Syria


Turkey is using self-defense under global law and the "Olive Branch" operation is aimed at eliminating Kurdish PYD/YPG forces along with the Islamic State, the army said, accusing the YPG of using civilians as human shields. As thousands of Free Syrian Army (FSA) rebels mobilized to aid the operation, Turkish jets struck 108 out of the 113 intended targets, including the Mannagh Air Base, a military airport in northwest Syria under the control of Syrian Kurdish militants.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced the offensive before it began. The Pentagon's deliveries of cutting-edge weapons, including man-portable air-defense systems (MANPADS), to pro-American units have triggered Turkey's military operation in north Syria, Russia's Defense Ministry said on Saturday.

The Associated Press cited a spokesman for the Syrian Kurdish militia group as confirming that the enclave was being targeted in Turkish aerial bombardments.

Three rockets fired from Syria hit the border province of Kilis early Sunday, following Turkey's operation in Syria's Afrin against the PKK/KCK/PYD-YPG and Daesh terrorist groups.

The United States had urged Turkey not to launch such an operation, saying the focus should remain on battling IS.

But the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces - of which the YPG is a major component - accused Turkey on Saturday of using cross-border shelling as a false pretext to launch an offensive in Syria. Russia, too, has called for restraint.

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"So nobody can object if we do what is necessary", said Erdogan, threatening to pursue the operations up to the Iraqi border.

Russian Federation has given Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's government crucial military backing throughout the war, which has killed hundreds of thousands of people and displaced millions since it began with a state crackdown on pro-democracy protesters in March 2011.

The Syrian government condemned what it called "Turkish aggression on Afrin", Syrian state media reported on January 20.

He slammed the USA decision to establish a new border army with the YPG fighters in order to secure Turkish and Iraqi borders with Syria. The US State Department basically said the Turkish move is unhelpful.

Tillerson said the United States aims to provide training to local elements in Syria - not create a new border security force.