Turkish forces close in on city center of Syria's Afrin

Salih Muslum

Turkey launched its offensive against the YPG on January 20 claiming that the Kurdish forces, which it argues are an offshoot of the banned Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), represent a "terrorist" threat to its southern borders.

A Kurdish demonstrator in Cyprus shouts slogans in protest against the Turkish offensive targeting Kurds in the city of Afrin in Syria.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday said his forces would be inside Afrin in a matter of days, but for humanitarian reasons they were taking their time to strategize and prevent civilian deaths.

"Hey NATO, with what has been going on in Syria, when are you going to come and be alongside us?"

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According to the Syrian Observatory of Human Rights, the Turkish Army and Turkey-backed armed groups have seized control of over 38 percent of Afrin's villages, but the siege is yet to be completed.

Erdogan said on Sunday Turkish troops and allied Syrian rebels were now just four to five kilometres from Afrin.

Erdogan questioned why North Atlantic Treaty Organisation had not come to Turkey's aid in its Syria operation when Ankara had backed critical alliance campaigns worldwide.

YPG has been a key American ally in the fight against Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Syria and the operation has raised tensions with Washington and European NATO powers. The Turkish government views the YPG as a terror organization and the Syrian branch of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) militant group.

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In northern Syrian zones, in the border with Turkey, have military presence of USA forces, with about two thousand soldiers deployed in their military bases in Manbij and other Syrian demarcations. The latter has been fighting for an autonomous region inside Turkey since 1984.

The calls have been dismissed by Turkish officials, who insist they are fighting against "terrorists", while Afrin was not explicitly mentioned in the resolution.

The YPG too denies any direct organisational links to Turkey's PKK- an assertion backed by a USA -led coalition whose air strikes have helped the militia and allied Arab fighters drive Islamic State militants out of tens of thousands of square kilometres of Syria.

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