◄ back to all

The Times: Thousands under siege as Turkish troops encircle Kurdish-held Afrin

The battle for Afrin, the Kurdish-held city in northern Syria, moved into a new phase last night as Turkish troops surrounded the city, placing hundreds of thousands of people under siege. President Erdogan insisted that civilians would be offered a safe corridor out of the area, and that all care was being taken to avoid harming civilians. However, Kurdish forces operating in the area claimed that Turkish airstrikes and artillery attacks were hitting civilian as well as military targets.

The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says that 204 Syrian citizens, including 32 women and 26 children, have been killed during the Turkish operation.

Turkish forces and allied rebel groups launched Operation Olive Branch, a cross-border campaign into the Afrin pocket in northwestern Syria, in late January. The YPG, the Kurdish militia that controls the town, is an ally of the US in the war against Islamic State but is also linked to the PKK, a banned terrorist group operating in southeastern Turkey and northern Iraq. Turkey says it has “neutralised” — meaning killed or captured — 3,400 YPG fighters so far. Mr Erdogan has vowed to turn attention to Manbij, a YPG-held town 60 miles east of Afrin.

back to top