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Turkey continues its assault on Kurdish Afrin in Syria

By Rudaw 21/1/2018
Turkish-backed fighters from the Free Syrian Army stand in the Tal Malid area, north of Aleppo, as they fire towards Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) positions in the village of Um al-Hosh, in the area of Afrin, on January 20, 2018. Photo: Nazeer al-Khatib | AFP
Turkish-backed fighters from the Free Syrian Army stand in the Tal Malid area, north of Aleppo, as they fire towards Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) positions in the village of Um al-Hosh, in the area of Afrin, on January 20, 2018. Photo: Nazeer al-Khatib | AFP

12:12 a.m. on January 22, 2018

Kurdistan to deploy Peshmerga to help Afrin against Turkey if possible, PUK official

A senior member of the ruling Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) said that they would like to send the Kurdish Peshmerga to help fellow Kurds in their “sacred resistance” against Turkey in Afrin, but this may not be possible given the current situation.

“Countries of the region, in particular Turkey, knows about our stance in Kobane,” Mala Bakhtiyar told reporters as he visited the Sulaimani office of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), the ruling party in Syrian Kurdistan or Rojava.

The Kurdistan Region, with the approval of Turkey and the US-led anti-ISIS Coalition, deployed its Peshmerga forces to help the Rojava fighters against ISIS in late 2014 in Kobane, a city that was under ISIS siege at the time. 

“If we can, we will help Afrin now. If they allow us, we will deploy forces to Afrin,” Bakhtiyar said.

“But if they allow us, before deploying forces, we will send a delegation to Ankara for dialogue. We prefer dialogue over war,” the Kurdish official said.

He added that deploying forces to Afrin from the Kurdistan Region is almost impossible.



10:21 p.m.

SDF: Turkey has failed again to enter Afrin

The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), an alliance of Kurdish and Arab armed groups, claimed that all Turkish attempts to enter areas controlled by the YPG, the backbone of the forces, have failed.

“Turkish occupation army and its mercenaries’ attempts to enter Afrin once again failed,” the SDF said in an English statement, referring to the Turkish military operation to clear Kurdish fighters from the border strip with Syrian Kurdistan or Rojava.

Turkish media earlier in the day claimed the Turkish military  secured at least a village from the Kurdish forces outside of Afrin city. The YPG denied the claims saying they lost control over one hill, but even that was later recaptured.

The SDF denied that they were behind three rockets that landed in the Turkish city of Reyhanli in Hatay province on Saturday that local government says killed at least one, and injured more than 30.

“We once again stress that we have nothing to do with shelling civilian settlements. We never target the territory outside of our borders,” the SDF said, claiming that the rockets were fired by the Turkish forces and the so-called Free Syrian Army, a Syrian militia supported by Ankara since the beginning of the Syrian Civil War in 2011.


The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported Sunday night that two people, a man and his son, have been killed by bombardment in Kaljibirin village east of Afrin by mortar attacks of Kurdish fighters.

The YPG, the Peoples’ Protections Units, said in a separate statement that they lost no territory to Turkey in the operation..

The YPG claimed that they killed more than 10 Turkish soldiers, and injured double that number in clashes on Sunday, but the Turkish military have not confirmed any such reports.


9:39 p.m.

France calls for emergency meeting of UN Security Council regarding Afrin on Monday

France has called for an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council tomorrow to discuss the Turkish military operation against the Kurdish canton of Afrin, two days after deadly attacks by the Turkish state that has killed at least nine civilians.

“Ghouta, Idlib, Afrin - France asks for an urgent meeting of the Security Council,” French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian had earlier tweeted.

The French minister had already discussed the situation in Afrin with his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu earlier in the day. 

"Syria: Ceasefire for everywhere, unconditional humanitarian access," he said in a separate tweet.


7:30 p.m.

Turkish strikes kill 8 civilians on Sunday, raising total to 18 in 24 hrs, Observatory

Turkish airstrikes have killed at least 18 civilians since the launch of the military aggression against Afrin including 8 people on Saturday, the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights that follows the events reported Sunday evening.

The Turkish bombardment that includes airstrikes and artillery killed 8 people, including one child in the Jalabara area of Shirawa district southeast of Afrin, which also caused material damage.

The observatory said that it also documented the death of three more people in two villages of Muraimin and Diwa, bringing the total to 18 since Saturday, the Observatory explained.

The YPG, an armed Kurdish group in Afrin, stated that the strikes killed 6 civilians, 3 Kurdish fighters and injured 13 more civilians on Saturday, the first day of the operation.

One Syrian national and 32 more people have been injured due to three rockets landing in the Reyhanli district of the Turkish province of Hatay, southern Turkey that borders Syria, Reyhanli mayor Huseyin Sanverdi told Turkish media on Sunday. He said two of the injured are in critical condition.


6:54 p.m.

Turkey’s President vows to “crush” local opposition to Afrin operation

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Sunday vowed to “crush” any local opposition to the country’s cross-border aggression against the Kurdish canton of Afrin in Syria.

His comments come after some people in Istanbul protested against the operation, faced by Turkey’s riot police.

Turkey has a significant Kurdish population in the south and southeastern parts of the country. Some members of the pro-Kurdish Peoples Democratic Party (HDP) have already voiced their opposition to Ankara's deadly attacks against Afrin that killed at least 7 people since the operation began on Saturday.

“This is a national struggle. We will crush anyone who opposes our national struggle,” Erdogan said at an event today.

“We are not alone... Allah is with us,” Erdogan said, “God willing, this operation will come to an end in a short time.”

Russia, France, Iran, and Egypt, among others, have called on the two sides for calm.

Turkish anti-riot police officers patrol in the streets as they hold their shields during a demonstration called by HDP members to protest against Turkey's "Olive Branch" operation in Syria on January 21, 2018 at the Kadikoy district, in Istanbul. Photo: AFP/Ozan Kose


6:37 p.m.

Iran demands Turkey to immediately halt Afrin operation

Iran has demanded the Turkish government immediately halt the military operation against Afrin, western Syria, saying that all sides have to respect the Syrian state sovereignty.

Tehran is watching the events on the border between Turkey and Syria “closely and with concerns,” Bahram Ghasemi, the spokesperson for the Iranian ministry of foreign affairs said on Sunday.

“Iran hopes that these operations will end immediately,” he said, adding that all efforts should be made to prevent the spread of the crisis on the border areas between the Kurdish region and Turkey.

Iran, Turkey and Russia are the official guarantors of observing de-escalation zones in Syria that is aimed to end the almost seven-year-old civil war in the country.

Ghasemi called on Turkey to play its role as a guarantor, while saying that Ankara has to take the path of political talks to bring stability to the country.

He warned that recent conflict may lead to the revival of extremist groups such as ISIS, a warning also shared by the YPG, the Kurdish armed group that is in control of Afrin.

Earlier in the day, Egypt, a country who has tense relations with Turkey over Ankara's support for the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, also condemned the military operation, saying that it is in violation of the Syrian state sovereignty.

France has said that they will take the issue of Turkish military incursion to the UN Security Council.

Turkey’s Foreign Minister said on at least two occasions that they consider any country’s opposition to their operation as siding with “terrorists.”


6:02 p.m.

Rojava officials blame Turkey, Russia for deadly operation in Afrin

Riyaz Dirar, co-chair of the Syrian Democratic Council, like other officials of the Kurdish region in Syria, accused the Russian government of siding with the Turkish state in their operation against the Kurdish-populated Afrin canton, north of Aleppo.

He said that the deal between the two countries on Afrin is similar to an evacuation deal arranged last year for Syrian rebels to be evacuated from Aleppo in favor of the Syrian regime, backed by Ankara.

The People’s Protection Units (YPG) and their all-female counterpart the YPJ are capable of defeating the Turkish military and its Syrian proxies, the official who heads the political wing of the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces told ANHA, a media outlet affiliated with the YPG.

Fawza Yousif, taking part in a protest against the Turkish military operation, criticized the double-standard of Turkey's policy with regards to Syria.

“Until yesterday, the Nusra Front was neighboring Turkey but Turkey did not carry out any assault against their territories,” she said, in reference to the al-Qaeda-linked militia that is fighting against the Syrian regime.

The YPG, a Kurdish armed group, on Saturday stated that they hold Russia responsible for the cross-border attacks.

Moscow withdrew its troops and military police from Afrin after Turkey launched the attack on Saturday, a move Rojava officials said was giving a green light to Turkey’s military to enter Syrian territories.


5:36 p.m.

People in the Kurdistan Region protest against Turkey’s cross-border operation

Some people in Erbil and Sulaimani, the two major cities of the Kurdistan Region protested Turkish aggression against fellow Kurds in Syrian Kurdistan, also known as Rojava.

“Long live the resistance of Afrin,” a woman protesting in front of the Kurdish parliament told Rudaw with tears in her eyes.

“Nobody can defeat Afrin,” a young man with a Kurdish flag wrapped over his shoulders said as he called for the Kurdish unity against Ankara’s operation.


“Afrin or death,” a man who said he is from Erbil added.

“Erdogan terrorist,” the protesters chanted, in reference to the Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan who ordered the attacks under the pretext of fighting “terrorism.”

People in Rojava, west of the Kurdistan Region, also came to the streets to protest the deadly military assault including in Jazira canton, east of Afrin.


5:07 p.m.

President Assad: ‘Brutal aggression’ by Turkey supporting ‘terrorism’

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has called the “brutal aggression” of the Turkish military in Afrin as supporting “terrorism.”

President Assad made the comments in his meeting with Kamal Kharrazi, a senior Iranian official on foreign affairs.

“President Assad emphasized that the brutal Turkish aggression against the Syrian city of Afrin cannot be separated from the policy used by the Turkish regime since day one of the Syrian crisis that is basically founded on helping terrorism and terrorist groups regardless of their names,” State-run SANA quoted Assad as saying.

Syria said on Thursday that they will shoot down any Turkish fighter jets that may enter their airspace, claiming they have the capability to do so. But two days into the Turkish operation, there are no such reports of any air engagement.

Both Turkey and the Kurdish YPG forces stated that at least 70 fighter jets flew over the Kurdish city of Afrin, western Syria, killing at least 7 people and injuring as many as 15.

The YPG, the Kurdish armed force in Afrin, stated that the fight will give birth to the revival of the ISIS extremist groups.


3:58 p.m.

Syrian leaders 'strongly condemn' Turkish aggression in Afrin


The Council of Dignitaries and Tribes’ Leaders of Hasaka issued a statement on Sunday.


“Afrin and Manbij and northern Syria as a whole are inseparable part of the territories of the Syrian Arab Republic and the aggression on Afrin is an aggression against the Syrian people,” the statement said, calling for uniting the ranks to face the new Ottoman arrogance.


The council is comprised of Kurds, Arabs, Turkmen and other components in the governorate of Hasaka.




3:40 p.m.

Arab trade union leader denounces Turkish aggression in Afrin

“We stand by the Syrian people in facing the conspiracy hatched against their country, and we highly appreciated their steadfastness and unity,” Jebali Maraghi, the head of the International Federation of Arab Trade Unions, told a correspondent of Syria's state news agency SANA.

Maraghi, who is in Egypt, reportedly expressed confidence in the victory of the Syrian people over the external terrorist war waged against their country.



3:20 p.m.

Turkish military 'not' in Afrin

Rudaw's Mashallah Dakak reported from southern Turkey that Turkish forces have not entered Afrin.


3:05 p.m.

France calls for 'urgent' UN Security Council meeting for Afrin, Idlib, Ghouta

"France requests an urgent meeting of the United Nations Security Council. [I had] discussions this morning with my Turkish counterpart," Jean-Yves Le Drian, France's minister of Europe and Foreign Affairs, wrote on Twitter.


"Syria: Ceasefire for everywhere, unconditional humanitarian access," he added in a separate tweet.


2:40 p.m.


Kurds repel initial Turkish operation into Afrin 


A Kurdish politician in Afrin told Rudaw by phone that "militants associated with Turkey failed to enter Afrin from the Bulbul area after YPG strongly resisted."


Ahmed Shawqi added that, 20 people were wounded in Turkey's air strikes.


He added that villages of Qibari and Sherawa area have come under Turkish bombardments today.




2:35 p.m.


Reports: YPG destroy 2 Turkish tanks in Afrin


“The YPG and YPJ have destroyed two tanks belonging to the Turkish invaders in Shera district as the Turkish invaders were trying an incursion into the area from three villages," reported ANHA, local Kurdish media close to the YPG.


Battles have continued in other areas on the Syrian side of the border.


“Heavy fighting occurred between YPG and Turkish invading army in the village of Shingel, Raco region, Afrin canton,” according to ANHA.


Turkey is also conducting an air campaign to support its operation.


“The Turkish invading army planes and artillery are now shelling the villages of Hammam and Biliku, while the Turkish invading forces are attempting an incursion from three villages — Adama, Balia and Kurdo — which are part of the Bulbul region," added ANHA.



2:15 p.m.

Turkish forces mobilize across Syrian border into Rojava

Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim told journalists at a media roundtable on Sunday morning that Turkish ground forces have entered Afrin.

The ground operations began at 11:06 a.m. (local time), according to Turkish broadcaster 24TV, which reported on the meeting in Istanbul.

“Our troops have gone past Kilis’s Gulbaba," PM having said.

Gulbaba, also called Martavan, is known for its production of grapes and olives. It is a town in the Province of Kilis.

Turkey has dubbed this incursion 'Operation Olive Branch.'

Yildirim said the operation was so-called because they are going "raise an olive tree for the innocent people of Afrin."

“So far we have no injuries," the PM reportedly said of Turkish forces, explaining that the operation is four-pronged.

Yildirim said that the Turkish forces will establish a 30 kilometer safe zone, according to Turkish broadcaster NTV.


12 p.m.

'Do not forget Mahabad' says Rojava Kurd, calling for resistance

Hediye Yusuf, a founding member of the self-declared Democratic Federal System of Northern Syria, expressed that Afrin is not the first time the Kurds have been misled by the international community.

“We have not been surprised by the Russian position because its history is full of such shameful and irresponsible positions," tweeted Yusuf on Sunday morning. "The lack of Syrian will as a state facilitates the occupation of Turkey by the Syrian territory."

She specifically referenced the short-lived Kurdish Mahabad Republic in what's now the Islamic Republic of Iran.

"Do not forget Mahabad. Resistance will be our slogan which will lead us to victory. We call on all the Kurds, the international community to support Afrin resistance.


11:59 a.m.


Local source: At least 7 civilians killed, 15 injured in Afrin

Seven civilians died and 15 were injured through Saturday, as the Turkish forces continue shelling the People’s Protection Units (YPG) and Asayish forces, Ramadhan Alamdar, an activist in Afrin, told Rudaw.


He added that said he was not aware of the total casualty figures among all YPG and Asayish (security) forces.


YPG reported on Saturday that three of their fighters were killed in Saturday’s attacks, including two female fighters fighting alongside the all-female YPJ forces.




11:51 p.m.

Turkey says it is targeting Kurds 'and ISIS' in Afrin

The Turkish army announced that they have engaged 153 targets of "PYD and ISIS" as part of the ongoing 'Operation Olive Branch,' according to state-run Anadolu Agency citing Turkish military sources. 


There is no report of ISIS presence in the targeted areas. 


11:50 p.m.

Turkish government to summon some of Syria’s neighboring diplomats

Sedat Onal, Turkey’s deputy undersecretary for Middle East foreign affairs, will summon Qatar, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia ambassadors in Ankara to the Turkish Foreign Ministry on Sunday to “inform them of the Olive Branch operation” in Afrin, according to CNN Turk.



10:20 a.m.

KNK calls on int’l community not to turn a blind eye on Turkey

The Kurdish National Congress (KNK), an umbrella group of Kurdish political and social organizations, called on the United Nations, the US-led international anti-ISIS coalition and international forces not to turn a blind eye to “these unjust and oppressive attacks” in Afrin and to oppose it instead, according to a released statement by KNK.

“Today is the day of resistance. Reach out to Afrin by all means. We are on the right path. We will resist and succeed,” read the statement published on PKK-linked Roj News.

KNK describes Turkey as the “main enemy of our nation,”

“In Rojhalat, it [Turkey] is a partner to Iran, in Bashur it is against all of the interests of Kurds, in Rojava it is an attacker, and in Bakur it runs the policy of assimilation, denial, destruction and genocide.”

Rojhalat refers to Iranian Kurdistan, Bashur to the Kurdistan Region, while Rojava is Syrian Kurdistan and Bakur is Kurdish areas in mostly southeastern Turkey.

KNK called for unity among Kurds to protect Afrin, adding that “We should protect Afrin and foil the enemy’s attacks through unity and unanimity, as we did in Kobane.”

The congress, which has close ties to the PKK and its imprisoned leader Abdullah Ocalan, also called on youth to join Kurdish forces in Afrin.


9:35 a.m.

Turkish proxies, the FSA, join fight against Kurds

In the early hours on Sunday, the Turkish backed Free Syrian Army (FSA) launched a major offensive on the Kurdish-held city of Afrin, a day after the Turkey's "Operation Olive Branch" began.

According to Turkey’s state-run Anadolu Agency, FSA fighters began movements with the support of Turkish military on Afrin.

FSA is a mix of foreign and local militants who have been used as a proxy force for Turkey in Syria. Their dominant presence is to the east of Afrin, but also reportedly have forces to the south of the canton.


9:21 a.m.

Reports: Turkey cuts communication networks in Afrin

Turkey has cut the communication networks in order to “disconnect Afrin people from outside and conceal its acts against civilians,” according to local media.

“Our correspondent in Afrin reported that Turkish government has cut all communication networks linked to Turkey in Afrin region a moment ago,” reported ANHA early on Sunday morning.

ANHA news agency is YPG-affiliated media. Roj News, which is close to the PKK, also reported the outage.

ANHA claimed that Syrian communication networks were cut “because of Turkish planes flying over the region.”



Turkish media reports 'rockets' hitting in Kilis, Turkey

After the intense bombardments of Turkish fighter jets on the city of Afrin on Saturday night, three rockets fired from Syria landed in Turkey's border city of Kilis.

The rockets hit four points in two different neighborhoods of the city at nearly 2 a.m. on Sunday, according to Anadolu, citing a local governor.

Kilis is a border town in Turkey just north of Afrin and has been used as a major staging area for the Turkish military and its supply lines.


Background: Turkey launches deadly military ops against Afrin in Sunday 


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mikail | 21/1/2018
kurds in Rojava also protect you and me with resisting with their blood and life against Isis, Nosra front and other fachist. and murderer islamic groups. Now whole world are lam and blind, while murderer turkish regime make another jenocide to killing kurds in Afrin and other kurdish area. Shame of this dirty, curropt, unjusted and...... world.
Rami | 21/1/2018
Sometimes it is best to ignore your friends and do what you have to do. Because later, your friends might not be there to help you. Do what is good for the Kurds, not what is good for the US. Go for independence! Good luck from Israel
sam | 21/1/2018
kurds have two choice. live peacefully and equally with other citizens of iraq, turkey, syria, and iran or embrace terror, and get killed one by one till the last one
FAUthman | 21/1/2018
A 30 kilometer (18.6 miles) safe zone Turkey wants to establish in Syria along the border. A quick check of the map shows that this buffer zone would not include the cities of Afrin, Al bab and Manbij. All three lie on the edge of the proposed 30 km "safe zone". Most of this territory is farmland and almost half of it is already occupied by Turkey. Therefore I do not see a confrontation looming with the US in Manbij or elsewhere, nor with Russia or Damascus. Soon this offensive by Turkey will not be on the front page of the news!
pre-Boomer Marine brat | 21/1/2018
Turkey's Dogan News Group has descended into the world's oldest profession - parroting the AKP line regarding an "existential threat" posed by Kurds against the Turkish Republic.

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