Turkish forces reach outskirts of Afrin town: monitor

Posted March 11, 2018

Turkish troops and Ankara-backed Syrian rebels battling the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) in northern Syria advanced on Saturday to within just a few kilometers of the flashpoint town of Afrin, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

He added that Turkey will help Afrin to rebuild and fix, including its electricity, water, education, and healthcare systems, just like it did in Jarablus, Ar-rai, Azaz and Al-Bab, after clearing these Syrian cities of Daesh terrorists during Turkey's Operation Euphrates Shield.

"Turkey will make sure the east of the Euphrates to the Iraqi border is cleansed of any terrorist group after operations in Syria", he said.

In his speech, Erdogan said the military operation would not end with the seizure of Afrin.

Presently, the Turkish Armed Forces and the Free Syrian Army are preparing to attack Mabatly settlement.

The town of Manbij, east of Afrin, is considered a key flashpoint in any future conflict due to the U.S. military presence in the area.

The US, who has supported the YPG in its campaign to defeat the Islamic State in Syria, does not agree with Ankara's designation of the Kurdish forces and has called on Turkey to limit its operations.

But, according to him, the advance sparked "major concerns" for tens of thousands of civilians in the town of Afrin.

Thousands of people have fled heavy shelling on the villages and towns near the Turkish border, many of them into Afrin town.

Although a direct assault on Afrin seems imminent, it appears Turkey-led forces will also attempt to bypass the city to the east and cut off Kurdish communication lines running to it via government-controlled territory in Aleppo province.

Turkey's state-run Anadolu Agency said that the Turkish troops and the FSA captured the Kurdish-held village of Hallubi Kabir in Afrin's Northeast, and took control of a dam which supplies water to Azaz and Afrin regions.

The military also said only terror targets were being destroyed and "utmost care" was being taken to not harm civilians.