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Turkey says ground troops

22 January, 2018, 02:32 | Author: Kristen Ingram
  • Erdogan says Turkey has launched new ground operation in Syria

France has called for an emergency meeting of the United Nations Security Council over Syria following a Turkish incursion into northern Syria's Afrin province, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said on Sunday.

Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdag ruled out the risk of a clash with American forces, saying they were not present in the Afrin region.

Turkey launched a massive air and ground campaign against US-backed Kurds in Syria's Afrin province on Saturday, which its military has code-named operation "Olive Branch", according to state-run Anadolu Agency.

The attacks follow weeks of warnings against the YPG in Syria from Erdogan and his ministers. Washington, which is backing the YPG in the battle against Islamic State in Syria, on Sunday said it was concerned about the situation.

A U.S. State Department official on Friday said military intervention by Turkey in Syria would undermine regional stability and would not help protect Turkey's border security.

"It is out of the question to have a direct clash between Turkey and the United States in the region", he added.

Kurdish officials said Russian military officials have proposed handing over Afrin to the Syrian government to avert a Turkey military offensive.

Operation Olive Branch is not the first time Turkey has used military force against Kurdish forces in northern Syria.

Turkey considers the YPG to be an extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which has carried out a deadly, decades-long insurgency in Turkey's mainly Kurdish southeast.

French Defence Minister Florence Parly said the fighting "must stop" as it could deter YPG fighters helping the worldwide coalition against IS.

A Reuters reporter at the Oncupinar gate on the Turkish side of the border with Syria, could hear the boom of outgoing artillery, with one being fired roughly every three minutes.

Turkish troops have targeted these YPG-held Arab villages in artillery and aerial attacks on the US-backed Kurdish militia it aims to sweep from its border, rebels said.

Russian Federation will back the Syrian government diplomatically and support a demand at the United Nations for Turkey to stop its military operation, Moscow's state-run RIA Novosti quoted a senior lawmaker as saying.

The Russian Defense Ministry said the United States contributed to the crisis in northern Syrian because it took steps "to isolate areas with predominantly Kurdish populations" and create border forces near Turkey.

Turkish forces said they are targeting ISIS as well as Kurdish militia in Afrin.

"They (the Kurdish and other USA -backed fighters) have proven their effectiveness", Mattis said. On Sunday, President Bashar Assad condemned the "brutal aggression" on Afrin but didn't repeat the threat.

Since it erupted in 2011, Syria's conflict has killed more than 340,000 people and displaced millions. Ankara accuses Washington of using one terrorist group to fight another in Syria.

A quarter of Syria land and 65 percent of Turkey-Syria border is under occupation of the terrorist organization.

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