Syrian Kurds accuse Turkey of ethnic cleansing in Afrin region

Presently, the Turkish Armed Forces and the Free Syrian Army are preparing to attack Mabatly settlement.

The YPG is the Syrian branch of the PKK terror organisation which is responsible for over 40,000 deaths, and has carried out a violent campaign against Turkey for more than 30 years.

"Then we will also clear Manbij, Ayn al-Arab, Tal Abyad, Resulayn and Kamisli of terrorists", Erdoğan said, naming other Syria cities near Turkey's borders.

"Now the centre of Afrin is surrounded and our entry is imminent", he said. Erdogan presented Afrin itself as the last real obstacle to taking the Kurdish district and placing it under the control of Turkish-backed rebels.

Ankara considers the Syrian Kurdish fighters "terrorists" and allied with Kurdish insurgents fighting inside Turkey.

Cavusoglu said the operation could begin after Iraq's parliamentary elections scheduled for May 2018, signalling that Turkish forces may move to northern Iraq following the ongoing operations in northern Syria.

Speaking at a joint news conference with his Austrian counterpart Karin Kneissl, Cavusoglu told reporters in Vienna that Turkey wanted the operation to end as quickly as possible so that Afrin can "embrace stability and civilians can return".

The Turkish Army and pro-Ankara militias have kicked-off the most critical phase of their Olive Branch operation against Kurdish forces in Aleppo province - the assault to seize the city of Afrin, Al-Masdar News reports. "So hopefully, we can make some headway at that level today".

The PKK is a designated terrorist organisation by Turkey, the United States and the European Union.

Turkey launched the operation on January 20 to clear the People's Protection Units (YPG), which Ankara considers a terror group affiliated to the PKK, from northwestern Syria.

Yesterday Turkish soldiers captured the strategically significant area of Jinderes Hill after heavy clashes with the Kurdish militia.

The US forces in Manbij have recently resisted Turkey's calls for them to leave the area.

  • Rogelio Becker