YPG: 'There is no agreement' with Damascus
A spokesperson for the YPG has reiterated that there is no deal for Syrian regime forces to be deployed to Afrin to help defend the Kurdish canton against Turkey's offensive.
“There is no agreement. There is only a call from us for the Syrian army to come in and protect the borders,” Nouri Mahmoud told Reuters.
Foreign nations must not use safe zones to exert influence in Syria: Moscow
Turkey’s Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdag echoed the president’s earlier warning, saying that deployment of pro-regime Syrian forces to Afrin would have disastrous consequences, Turkey’s state-run Anadolu Agency reported.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had earlier warned of “consequences” if the regime forces became involved in the conflict in Afrin.
The threats from the leadership in Ankara come as Turkey is preparing a new observation post in Idlib as part of the de-escalation zone agreed upon in the Astana process.
The new post will be just about 10 kilometers from positions of pro-regime and Iranian-backed militias, Anadolu reported.
Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov warned against foreign states using the de-escalation zones for anything other than creating a safe area in war-torn Syria.
Peace processes created under the Astana process must fall under “UN auspices, implying that the de-escalation zones should have a strictly temporary nature,” Bogdanov told reporters on Monday, Russia’s TASS news agency reported.
"The zones are necessary from the point of view of ending warfare, but at the same time it is impermissible to see the de-escalation zones turning into zones of influence of foreign states," he asserted.
A Turkish-backed Syrian rebel fighter runs for cover after firing a mortar shell from Idlib province towards YPG locations in Afrin on Monday. Photo: Omar Haj Kadour/AFP
Rouhani, Erdogan discuss Afrin and Idlib in phone call
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani have held a phone conversation to discuss the situation unfolding in Afrin and operations in Idlib, according to Turkey’s state-run Anadolu Agency. Both leaders emphasized the importance of cooperation in the fight against terrorism.
Erdogan warns of ‘consequences’ if Syrian regime deploys to Afrin
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan threatened consequences if Syrian regime forces are deployed to the Kurdish canton of Afrin.
"If the Syrian regime takes this path, there will be consequences,” he told Russian President Vladimir Putin in a phone call on Monday, according to CNN Turkish.
Putin is a firm ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Damascus is reportedly talking with Kurdish representatives from Afrin to deploy forces to the canton in a bid to deter Turkey’s military incursion.
Turkey gains ground as Afrin-Damascus talks ongoing: Observatory
Under intense shelling, Turkish forces and their allied Syrian proxies have advanced in southwestern and northwestern Afrin, expanding its control to some 10 percent of the Kurdish canton in the last 24 hours, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported Monday afternoon.
According to the UK-based conflict monitor, talks are still ongoing between Kurdish officials and Damascus regarding the possible deployment of Syrian forces to Afrin. Administration of the canton and the presence of the armed Kurdish forces are two issues being discussed, the Observatory stated.
Talks are also ongoing between the Kurds and Russia regarding deployment of border guards and civil police from the regime forces to Afrin, according to the Observatory.
Putin, Erdogan discuss Afrin in phone call
Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed the situation in Afrin in a phone call with his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday.
They agreed to strengthen cooperation through the Astana process, working to ensure effective functioning of the Syrian de-escalation zones agreed on by Russia, Turkey, and Iran and to promote political talks following on agreements reached at the Sochi congress, a statement from the Kremlin detailed.
The two leaders agreed to continue their cooperation in the war on terror, Turkey’s state-run Anadolu Agency reported of their conversation.
Turkey accelerates Afrin assault to cut Kurdish route to sea
Before the deployment of Syrian forces to Afrin takes place, Turkey has accelerated its efforts to impose full control over northern strip of Afrin, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported on Monday.
If successful, control of the border regions would effectively cut Kurdish routes through Hatay province and to the Mediterranean.
Areas to the west and northeast of Afrin city were also heavily targeted by rocket-propelled grenades and aerial bombings, the Observatory reported.
The shelling resulted in the death of a civilian and the wounding of eight others, according to the Observatory and Al Mayadeen TV.
YPG posted video what it described as a dead girl on Monday afternoon.
Rudaw could not independently verify the casualty.
The Observatory reported that "logistical preparations" were still underway in preparation of the regime forces' movements towards Afrin.
Turkey wants to change the demography in Afrin
Hediye Yusuf, a founding member of the self-declared Democratic Federal System of Northern Syria, promised to maintain the resilience of the people of Afrin.
"Turkey wants to loot our homes, villages, and change the demography of our region."
Yusuf was addressing the citizens of Mobata sub-district in Afrin.
She accused Turkey of wanting to "invade our soil."
Yusuf claimed that most of foreign ISIS militants had entered Syria through Turkey.
Turkey OK with Damascus sending forces into Afrin to clear 'terrorists'
"If the regime enters Afrin to clear the YPG, then Turkey will not have a problem with it," said Turkish FM Mevlut Cavasoglu on Monday.
Cavasoglu was speaking from Amman in a press conference with his Jordanian counterpart.
"If it supports YPG, then no force can stop Turkey in clearing the terrorists," he added.
Temporary base erected in Afrin ahead of reported deal between pro-Syrian government forces and YPG on February 19, 2018. Video: Ruptly
YPG in Afrin denies current agreement with Damascus
Brusk Hasake, a spokesperson for YPG in Afrin has said the Syrian Arab Army will not enter Afrin and denied an agreement has been made between YPG and Damascus.
"We have repeatedly said that Syrian Army has not entered [and] will not enter Afrin. If there is an agreement we will make a statement [on it]," told Russia's Sputnik news agency on Monday.
Russia announced a planned troop withdrawal when Presidents Vladimir Putin and Bashar al-Assad met at Khemeim air base in northwest Syria in December.
"We are fed up of this news. If Syrian Army enters Afrin we will not hide it from you and the public," added Hasake.
Earlier this month, a Russian plane was shot down by rebel fighters in southwest Aleppo. Russian contractors are known to operate in parts of the country, supporting the interests of the Assad regime and Russia.
Kurdish officials wanted regime forces previously in Afrin
TEV-DEM Spokesperson Abdulrahman Salman told Rudaw on Sunday that "we had initially requested for the Syrian Army to enter Afrin."
Afrin is westernmost of three Kurdish cantons in what Kurds call Rojava. The Movement for a Democratic Society (TEV-DEM) is the ruling coalition of the Northern Syrian Federation.
Turkey began its assault on Afrin one month ago. So far, they have managed to control about 8 percent of the district.
'Forces will arrive in Afrin in the next few hours'
Forces loyal to the regime are amassing near Afrin on Monday.
A build-up of pro-regime forces to the east of Afrin was broadcast by Al Mayadeen TV.
The forces were shown on the road between Aleppo and Afrin cities.
“Popular forces will arrive in Afrin in the next few hours to support the steadfastness of its people in confronting the aggression which Turkish regime forces have launched on the region,” state news agency SANA reported, citing its correspondent in Aleppo.
The agency uses "popular" to refer to pro-Syrian regime fighters.
SANA also reported that Syrian civilian aid forces have entered Afrin through Maqsoud and Manbij.
'Residents' of Aleppo city entered Afrin, media close to the YPG, ANHA news reported on Monday.
A Kurdish politician from Syria told Rudaw on Sunday that Syrian Arab Army Forces would come to Afrin on Monday.
"The agreement is to protect borders," explained Sheikho Bilo, an official from the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Unity Party (PYDKS), adding that “the agreement is only militarily."
Afrin has been controlled by the mostly-Kurdish YPG forces, who have withstood a month-long assault at the hands of the Turkish military and their 'Free Syrian Army' proxies, who are opposed to the regime of Bashar al-Assad.
Kurdish and pro-regime forces have largely avoided direct and large-scale confrontations in the seven-year conflict.
From Afrin: What are locals saying about pro-government forces in Afrin?