Syrian forces in Afrin to repel Turkish assault
Aleppo [Syria], Feb 19 : Syrian pro-government forces on Monday arrived in Afrinarea to support local Kurdish militants, who are fighting Turkish troops in the region. According to Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA), the arrival of popular forces will strengthen the locals' resilience and resistance against the Turkish attack, which targets infrastructure, public and private properties, and economic and services establishments. The Turkish government has been waging war on Kurdish militants in Afrin for almost a month, using various types of weapons and shells, including the internationally-banned chlorine gas, killing and injuring hundreds of civilians and destroying infrastructure, properties, and historical landmarks. SANA reported that a minor girl was killed and eight others were injured in the assault by the Turkish troops. Turkey on Monday said it would hit the pro-government troops if deployed to Afrin. The warning followed Syrian state media's announcement of the pro-government forces' entry to the Kurdish-controlled enclave of Afrin "within hours". The official SANA news agency said the forces would "bolster" local forces in confronting Turkish "aggression". The agreement may prompt Turkey to pull out and end a month-long air and ground offensive that aims to oust the People's Protection Units (YPG) from Afrin. Ankara considers the YPG a "terrorist group" linked to its own Kurdish insurgency within Turkey's borders. Defence Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said, "If the regime is entering to protect the YPG, then no one can stop us, stop Turkey or the Turkish soldiers." The minister added that Ankara had no problem if Syrian government forces entered Afrin to clear the area of YPG. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Turkish troops used artillery shells to pound villages in Afrin. "The popular forces joining the resistance against Turkish occupation in Afrin comes in the framework of supporting residents as well as defending Syria and its sovereignty," SANA said. Referring to Turkish-backed Syrian insurgents, SANA added the deployment aimed to "frustrate attempts by (Turkish President Recep Tayyip) Erdogan's regime and its mercenaries of terrorist organisations to occupy the area". The Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), backed by its armed wing People's Protection Units (YPG), has dominated the Kurdish areas of northern Syria since 2012. Turkey is trying to oust the YPG from Afrin because it says the group is an extension of the banned Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which has fought for Kurdish autonomy in Turkey for three decades.
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