Regardless of Security Council, Turkey is determined to carry out Afrin operation until the end

nsnbc : Turkish military forces and allied militias have entered Raju town in northwestern Afrin, reported Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency. The YPG-led and U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) fore their part, reported about fierce, still ongoing clashes in Raju town and the district. The YPG and SDF call on UN Security Council members to hold Turkey accountable. Turkey insists it will continue its Afrin operation until the end.

Turkey military in Afrin, Mar 2018Since Turkey launched its offensive dubbed “Operation Olive Branch” on January 20, 2018, Turkish forces and allied Islamist militia have seized control of about 22 percent of the predominantly Syrian – Kurdish canton of Afrin in northern Syria. Turkish and allied forces have reportedly seized some 75 villages and one town in Afrin.

The U.S. backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) with its main constituent being the Syrian – Kurdish, PYD affiliated People’s Protection Units (YPG) have reported about fierce clashes in Raju. The SDF, on its official website on March 1, stated that fierce clashes broke out between SDF forces and Turkish invasion forces with allied terrorist factions  – described as ISIS and Al-Nusra by the SDF, have been engaged in fierce clashes since the early hours of the morning in Jingeh village. The SDF reported on March 1 that clashes were still ongoing.

The SDF also reported that Turkish warplanes directly bombed the civilians in Haj Khalil village, killing and wounding an unspecified number of people. The air strikes expanded later to Hobika village said the SDF. The SDF also noted that “terrorist invaders” used the cover of the airstrikes to attempt to move towards Balika village on the morning of March 1. The SDF notes that it was able to repel the invaders but that engagements were ongoing at the time of the writing of their report.

The SDF noted that clashes continued to include both Balika and Jelah villages where the Turkish military also launched raids using helicopters. The SDF also reports about clashes on the Jinderas axis, in Mabatah, Belbeleh village, and Shiyeh.

After taking the last of the border area this week, Turkey now controls 250 kilometres of border stretching from Jarablus, on the western shore of the Euphrates River, to northern Idlib province. With that advancement, Turkey turned its focus to the urban areas, mainly the towns of Jandaris and Raju, and have brought in police special forces to secure territories taken by the army and Syrian proxies.

The Syrian – Kurdish YPG and the SDF have declared that they will abide by a UN Security Council ceasefire, but have maintained the right to act in self-defense. Ankara has insisted that its Afrin incursion does not come under the ceasefire, framing its offensive a counter-terror operation.  Turkey’s Prime Minister Binali Yildirim declared that the operation in Afrin “will continue to the end.” It is worth mentioning that Turkey, along with Iran and Russia, is promoting itself as “guarantor” of the ceasefire that it violates.

The SDF reiterated that despite the UN Security Council Resolution 2401, which obligates all parties to stop hostilities, the Turkish state continues to violate international resolutions and targets our people in Afrin with various types of weapons and air raids, which expose our people to a systematic annihilation. Therefore, our forces are confined to self-defense in case of any attacks in Afrin.

CH/L – nsnbc 02.03.2018

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