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Ankara to Assad: ‘No One Can Stop Turkish Forces’ in Northern Syria

Turkish forces prepare for long haul on Syria frontline
AFP OZAN KOSE
EDWIN MORA

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu has defiantly vowed that the Russian- and Iranian-backed military loyal to dictator Bashar al-Assad will fail to stop the ongoing Turkey-led offensive against the Kurdish-held Afrin region in northern Syria.

“There is no problem if Syrian forces enter Afrin to get rid of the YPG [People’s Protection Units] or the PKK [Kurdistan Workers’ Party]. But if they enter Afrin to protect the YPG, then no one can stop Turkish forces,” declared the foreign minister during a press conference on Monday, the Hurriyet Daily News reported.

His comments came soon after Badran Jia Kurd, an adviser to the self-declared autonomous Kurdish administration in northern Syria, told Reuters the Kurds in the region reached a deal to work together with the Damascus government, reports Reuters.

Under the agreement, the Assad troops are expected to help the People’s Protection Units (YPG), the armed wing of the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) that controls swaths of northern Syria, protect the area from the Turkish invasion.

The Assad regime is already assisting the YPG against Tukey indirectly by allowing Kurdish troops to reach northern Syria’s Afrin region with reinforcements and supplies through territory held by the dictator, Reuters has learned from representatives of both sides.

On Monday, Hurriyet, citing the Syrian state television channel al-Ikhbariya TV, noted that Syrian regime forces were expected to join the Kurds “within hours.”

Since the Syrian war began in 2011, pro-Syrian rebel Turkey and Assad have been on opposing sides of the conflict. The Kurds and the Syrian regime have avoided confrontation for the most part, but they have clashed at times.

Syrian Kurds have been asking the Assad regime for assistance to keep Turkey out of Syria.

Until recently, the Assad regime and its Russian and Iranian allies have stayed mainly in the shadows of the turmoil.

While Iran has urged Turkey to stay out of Syria, Russia has been more ambivalent in his position, calling both sides to “show restraint.”

The United States has flat out urged its NATO ally to halt its Afrin offensive.

On January 20, Turkey launched an offensive against the Kurds in Afrin, prompting the YPG to retaliate.

Turkey considers the YPG to be an affiliate of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), considered a communist terrorist group by Washington and Ankara.

Despite Turkey’s hostility towards the YPG, the United States continues to support the Syrian Kurds, a move that has deteriorated the relationship between Washington and Ankara.

Citing the local Kurdish officials, Kurdistan 24 reported that Turkish airstrikes have killed 180 civilians, wounded another 143, and displaced about 60,000.

Turkey concedes it has killed “1,614 terrorists” and 32 soldiers since its so-called Operation Oliver Branch began on January 20.

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