Senior Kurdish official, Hevi Mustafa, said Turkish warplanes had struck residential areas of Afrin, forcing people to take refuge inside their homes and in shelters, according to Reuters. Similarly, Islamist rebel factions allied with Turkey, attacked Kurdish positions east of Afrin from inside Syrian territory in a bout in which re would have been at least 4 dead.
In a sign of mounting tensions in the region, two other USA defense officials told CNN that Turkish backed rebels near Manbij, Syria are regularly firing on United States military patrols and that U.S. forces occasionally return fire.
The staff of Turkish Army announced beginning of operation under name Olive branch from 17.00 Saturday (local time).
The United States has instead called on Turkey to focus on the fight against Islamic State militants and not take military action in Afrin.
People's Protection Units (YPG) of Syria is seen by Ankara as a group linked to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).
Tension at the Syrian-Turkish border increased after Turkey said it was readying an assault against Kurdish forces in northern Syria.
The US-led coalition fighting the Islamic State group said last week that they were working with the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) to create a 30,000-strong border security force in northern Syria, a statement that drew sharp condemnation from other countries.More news: Bitcoin prices fall as South Korea says ban still an option
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Meanwhile, tens of thousands of Syrians in the northwest are fleeing the renewed violence amid a new government offensive in neighbouring Idlib, converging on the Turkish border and igniting fears of a new wave of migration.
Russian Federation is Syria's most powerful ally.
Turkish Chief of the General Staff on Saturday talked on phone with his USA counterpart Gen. Joseph Dunford and Russian Gen. Valery Gerasimov before the start of Operation Olive Branch, a statement said. If terrorists in Afrin don't surrender, then we will raze the place on their heads.
A pro-Turkish Syrian rebel force is reportedly also closing in on Afrin but the Kurds, widely considered one of the most effective anti-Daesh ground forces, said they would stand their ground and defend a claimed one million residents.
But the YPG has been the key ally of Turkey's fellow North Atlantic Treaty Organisation member the United States in the fight against ISIL, playing a key role in pushing the extremists out of their Syrian strongholds. There is, however, a Russian contingent in Afrin, but given recent rapprochement between Erdogan and his Russian pair, Vladimir Putin, a certain acquiescence of Moscow is given to Turkish offensive.