Syrian Officials Urge Turkish Army to Stop Attacks on Afrin

The Turkish military vehemently claims of civilian casualties and the use of chemical or biological weapons in Operation Olive Branch in Syria's Afrin, noting that it does not own the prohibited material in its inventory.

Ankara, which considers the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) militia in Syria a "terror" group, has vowed to carry on and possibly expand the operation, despite worldwide concern.

"Step by step, we will clean our entire border", Erdogan said in a speech after the army said it had captured Jebel Bursaya, a hill that Turkish media had described as a critical position in recent days. Speaking on Sunday, President Erdogan said the campaign could now be extended to other parts of the 500-mile Turkish-Syrian border, to create a 20-mile "security zone". While the bungled announcement of United States plans to incorporate the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in a 30,000 Syrian strong border force appears to be the temporary justification, the attack was long in the making: the Turkish government had been openly threatening military action in Afrin for more than a year.

A Turkish attack on Manbij could lead to USA soldiers being caught in the fighting between Turkish troops and the US -backed Kurdish militia.

The attack on Afrin is now in its eleventh day as dozens of civilians, including children and women, were reported to have been killed by Turkish air raids and shelling.

Among those held was TTB director Rasit Tukel, state-run news agency Anadolu said.

Turkey, which is waging a military offensive against Kurdish YPG fighters in Syria's northwestern region of Afrin, has repeatedly said it will also drive the YPG militia from the mainly Arab town of Manbij, east of Afrin.

Meanwhile, senior authorities in Ankara have warned Washington that there could be a confrontation between Turkish and American troops in northern Syria if arms transfer to the Kurds was not stopped.

  • Joey Payne