first published on January 23, 2018 by Sean
Turkey invades the Syrian province of Afrin in an aggressive operation against the Kurdish militia. After a preliminary air campaign and artillery bombardments, Turkish tanks and troops accompanied by FSA allies began seizing formally Kurdish held ground in an operation ironically dubbed “olive branch”. The Kurds deny these claims and assert their continued control of the contested region.
This past weekend, Turkish airstrikes and artillery pummeled Kurdish held positions inside the isolated northwestern province of Afrin, Syria. Commencing operation “Olive Branch” and attempting to clear 30km of territory along the Turkish/Syrian border of Kurdish forces – regarded as terrorists by Turkey. Assisted by around 25,000 Free Syria Army (FSA) rebels according to Reuter’s and,
“A main goal of the military operation was to recapture Tel Rifaat, a town southeast of Afrin, and a string of Arab villages the YPG captured from rebels in February 2016, driving out tens of thousands of inhabitants,”
Turkish President Erdogan had typically antagonistic remarks for the Kurds regarding the operation stating that,
“Our jets took off and started bombing. And now the ground operation is underway. Now we see how the YPG … are fleeing in Afrin,” he said. “We will chase them. God willing, we will complete this operation very quickly.”
Kurdish leadership rebuked much of Turkish claims and asserted that it had successfully halted the Turkish advance. “All the Turkish military’s ground attacks against Afrin have been repelled so far and they have been forced to retreat,” according to YPG official Nouri Mahmoudi.
The video below was released by the Kurdish media and shows skirmishing somewhere in this contested region. The fighting appears to be ongoing and this latest development adds another layer of complexity into an already chaotic situation. Afrin will be something to watch in the coming days.