The Latest: Syrian Kurds deny Turkish troops enter enclave

The Latest: Syrian Kurds deny Turkish troops enter enclave
The Associated Press

HASSA, Turkey (AP) — The Latest on the Syrian conflict (all times local):

1 p.m.

A Kurdish militia and a Syrian war monitoring group have denied reports that Turkish troops have entered a Kurdish enclave in northern Syria.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says the Kurdish militia and Turkish forces have clashed on the northern and western edges of Afrin, but that Turkish troops have failed to advance.

Mustafa Bali, spokesman for the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, which is dominated by the Kurdish militia, said attempts to infiltrate Afrin have been repelled since Saturday. He said Turkish aircraft have continued to strike Afrin.

The Turkish military says its offensive, named operation Olive Branch, aims to rid the region of the Kurdish People’s Protection Units, or YPG.

Bali said the SDF, which is the main U.S. ally in the fight against the Islamic State group in Syria, has reinforced YPG ranks in order to defend Afrin.

Syrian opposition fighters are battling alongside the Turkish troops in the latest front to open in the war in Syria.

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12:20 p.m.

Turkey’s state-run news agency says Turkish ground troops have entered a Kurdish-held enclave in northern Syria and are advancing with Turkish-backed Syrian opposition forces.

Anadolu Agency said the troops pushed into Afrin on Sunday, a day after Turkish jets pounded Syrian Kurdish targets in the region.

The Turkish military says its offensive, named operation Olive Branch, aims to rid the region of the Kurdish People’s Protection Units, or YPG.

Turkey considers the YPG a terror organization because of its affiliation to Kurdish rebels fighting in southeastern Turkey, and had been threatening to attack Afrin for weeks. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has promised to expand the operation to other Kurdish regions.

The YPG is a key U.S. ally in the war against the Islamic State group.

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10:20 a.m.

A Turkish official says suspected Syrian Kurdish fighters have fired rockets from across the border, slightly wounding one person.

Gov. Mehmet Tekinarslan says four rockets struck the town of Kilis early Sunday, hitting two houses and an office. He says Turkish artillery returned fire. The attack came as dozens of Turkish jets pounded the Kurdish-run enclave of Afrin in northern Syria.

Afrin is controlled by a Syrian Kurdish militia that Turkey views as part of the Kurdish insurgency in its southeast. The militia forms the backbone of the Syrian Democratic Forces, the main U.S. ally against the Islamic State group in Syria.

The state-run Anadolu Agency says Turkey-backed Syrian forces have penetrated the enclave and are advancing.

Prime Minister Binali Yildirim says a Turkish ground offensive could begin Sunday.

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