One day after announcing “Operation Olive Branch,” Turkish forces launched a ground offensive against Kurdish fighters in northern Syria. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad denounced the move as “brutal aggression,” but so far, the government in Damascus has not responded with force.
CGTN’s Michal Bardavid reports from Hassa.
The military offensive dubbed “Operation Olive Branch” started with Turkish tanks crossing into northern Syria, supporting the Syrian rebels in Afrin.
Turkish artillery pounded the area throughout the day, and the Turkish army announced dozens of warplanes had attacked Kurdish YPG positions and targeted shelters, hideouts and weapons depots.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had repeatedly stated the aim of the operation was to clear the border area of “terrorists” who have launched attacks from Syria. On Sunday, Erdogan addressed the future of Afrin.
“The main point is to return Afrin to its real owners,” Erdoğan said. “Do we have 3.5 million Syrian brothers in our country? Yes, we do. Our goal is to send the 3.5 million Syrian brothers in our country back to their land.”
Turkey has been threatening to launch a new military operation against the main Syrian Kurdish militia.
Retaliation came in the early hours of Sunday, with rockets fired from Syria hitting the Turkish border town of Kilis. Later in the afternoon, more rockets dropped into Turkey, this time in the border town of Reyhanli. At least one person was killed and more than 30 wounded. Officials say rockets have been fired from YPG positions in Afrin.
Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim announced a four-stage military operation to clear out what he says are as many as 10,000 terrorists in Afrin.
The YPG has called on its members to resist the ground offensive, and has accused Russia of being partly responsible by allowing Turkey to access Syrian airspace.
Goran Zaneti, a writer and political analyst, discusses the situations there with CGTN’s Wang Guan.