Turkish Military Says It Has Encircled Syrian Town of Afrin


Turkish military and Free Syrian Army (FSA) forces have encircled Afrin town center as of March 12, and as Turkish and FSA forces encircled the town, the terrorist group is trying to prevent civilians from leaving Afrin in order to slow down the Turkish advance.

Cavusoglu said Tuesday that Turkey and the United States would decide on a plan for the process during talks scheduled for March 19, but said Turkish forces would carry out a military operation if the discussions fail.

Panic is spreading in the town as the Turkish forces approach, and some civilians have come under fire when they have tried to leave, according to residents and Syrian Kurdish officials.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based organisation that reports on the war, said Turkish forces and their Syrian militia allies had encircled an estimated 700,000 people in Afrin and nearby areas.

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has repeatedly said that Afrin should be cleared of "terrorists", and demanded the deployment of Turkish troops there during a speech back in November 2016.

Turkey launched its operation "Olive Branch" in northern Syria almost two months ago to sweep the Syrian Kurdish YPG from the Turkish border. Some 1,000 other Daesh terrorists were killed trying to attack the Turkish camp in Iraq's Bashiqa, which was established near Mosul to train Iraq's Kurdistan Regional Government's (KRG) Peshmerga forces in their fight against Daesh and PKK terror groups.

The Central Military Media says the army on Tuesday entered the district and took control of points previously held by the gunmen.

The Russian Defense Ministry said Gen. Valery Gerasimov called Gen. Joseph Dunford Tuesday to discuss the situation in the Damascus suburb of eastern Ghouta.

Elsewhere in Syria, dozens of civilians were evacuated from the besieged, rebel-held Damascus suburb of eastern Ghouta, arriving on foot and in buses to an army checkpoint set up by the Syrian and Russian militaries.

The UN Security Council passed a resolution last month calling for a 30-day ceasefire to allow for aid deliveries and medical evacuations from the enclave, but both have been sporadic. The Syrian regime's campaign to crush a popular uprising in 2011 plunged the country into civil war.

The government has reportedly been pursing separate negotiation tracks over the three rebel-held pockets of Eastern Ghouta, focused on local truces or potential evacuation deals for rebels and civilians.