by WorldTribune Staff, March 18, 2018
Turkish troops and Ankara-backed rebels drove Kurdish militia from the city of Afrin in northern Syria on March 18.
Turkey’s flag was flying over the city as Turkey claimed victory in a two-month operation against the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), AFP reported.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced that Turkey-backed fighters had taken control of the city center, adding that a “large number” of Kurdish fighters had “fled with their tails between their legs.”
British-based monitoring group Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that more than 280 civilians have been killed since the Afrin campaign began on Jan. 20.
The Observatory said more than 1,500 Kurdish fighters had been killed since the start of the offensive, most of them in airstrikes and artillery fire.
More than 400 pro-Ankara rebels have also been killed, the Observatory said. The Turkish military said 46 Turkish soldiers died in the battle for Afrin.
Turkey said the operation could move on to other Kurdish-controlled areas of northern Syria.
“Our work is not finished…. but terrorism is finished in Afrin,” Turkish government spokesman Bekir Bozdag said on Twitter. “Their project of creating a terrorism corridor and a terrorist state has been thwarted.”
The YPG has been a key component in the U.S.-led alliance that has driven Islamic State (ISIS) from most of Syria.
Turkey considers the YPG as a “terrorist” offshoot of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).