Turkish border towns hit in retaliation for operation in Syria’s Afrin

World Today

Turkish anti riot police officers stand guard after a rocket hit a mosque in the Turkish border province of Kilis on January 24, 2018 (AFP PHOTO: OZAN KOSE)

The White House is urging Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to deescalate military actions in northern Syria. The goal is to avoid actions that might risk conflict between Turkish and American troops. U.S.-affiliated forces are already retaliating with strikes aimed at Turkish border towns.

CGTN’s Michal Bardavid reports.

Follow Michal Bardavid on Twitter @michal_bardavid

Early Wednesday morning, a massive explosion rocked the outskirts of Afrin as Turkish airstrikes targeted YPG positions. Later that night, a rocket hit a mosque in the Turkish border town of Kilis, killing at least 2 people. 

President Erdogan called on the international community to support Turkey in its cause to defeat the YPG, but also added the operation will not end with Afrin. One of the main aims of Turkey’s Olive Branch Operation is maintaining border security, but there are other concerns as well.

“They want to create a state, their own state…the Kurdish State. And that will separate East and West – it will split Syria. And their goals are even bigger than that. They want to capture so much territory, so we have to fight them, because we are one FSA army and we are one Syrian nation,” said Hamza Habboush, a member of the Free Syrian Army. The FSA plays a significant role in supporting Turkey on the ground in Afrin.

Hamza was previously fighting against ISIL on the ground in Jarablus, and said the YPG is more difficult to defeat because they are well-trained and have good equipment.

“The impediment is the mountainous nature of the area. It impedes the progress of the tanks, in addition to that, they have set heavy weapons on the hills which prevent the forces from progressing,” added FSA Commander Salim Alberiny.

On Wednesday, the Turkish army said it had “neutralized” at least 280 Syrian Kurdish fighters and ISIL militants since the operation began. That number refers to those killed, injured or captured.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights has said dozens of FSA members had also been killed. The operation is expected to intensify as the fighting moves towards the city center.