Syrian rebels have taken control of the town of Afrin, the Turkish president said. But a Kurdish official has denied that YPG fighters fled, saying Kurdish forces are still engaged in clashes over the strategic town.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Sunday said Syrian rebels backed by Ankara had taken control of the Syrian town of Afrin, marking a major setback for Kurdish forces in the area.
“Units of the Free Syrian Army (FSA), which are backed by Turkish armed forces, took control of the center of Afrin this morning,” Erdogan said. “Search operations to locate mines and other explosives are under way.”
Turkish forces and Free Syrian Army capture Afrin city
President Erdogan announces that Turkish flag hoisted in the centre of the Kurdish-dominated Syrian city of Afrin.
Turkish forces and Free Syrian Army (FSA) rebels captured the centre of Afrin in northwest Syria after Kurdish fighters who were in control evacuated the city in order to fight another day.
Turkey’s military said in a tweet on Sunday that troops were searching for landmines and other explosive devices in the area.
“Many of the terrorists had turned tail and run away already,” President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in a speech in western Turkey.
Erdogan: Syria’s Afrin city center ‘entirely under control,’ Kurds ‘fled’
18 Mar, 2018
The Turkish military and allied forces have taken full control of the Syrian city of Afrin, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced on Sunday. Kurdish YPG forces had previously maintained control of the area.
The pro-Turkish forces entered the city before dawn and faced no resistance from Kurdish fighters, who had already withdrawn, according to reports. Erdogan said in a televised speech this morning that all measures would be taken to protect Afrin’s residents. He praised the “heroic” actions of the armies, Turkey’s NTV reports.
Turkey Attacks Hospital in Syria’s Afrin, Killing Nine
An airstrike by Turkey’s military hit the main hospital in the Syrian city of Afrin on Friday night, killing at least nine civilians, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. The Kurdish YPG confirmed the incident.
Turkey’s Army issued a statement Saturday morning on the matter, insisting that no such attack happened, despite it being reported and confirmed by multiple sources. They insisted “only terrorists” are being attacked.
In addition to the attack, Turkey’s Army also dropped laflets across Afrin, demanding that all the Kurds in the district surrender unconditionally and “trust the justice of Turkey.” Turkey invaded Afrin in January, and has vowed to expand the war across Syrian Kurdistan.