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Syria sends reenforcements to Kurdish-controlled Afrin

22 February 2018

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu earlier said Ankara was not against deploying the Syrian government forces to Afrin if they fight against terrorism there.

Vehicles evacuating following Turkish artillery bombardment near the Afrin crossing in the northern Syrian region, after Syrian pro-government forces entered the region. Turkey began its assault last month to drive out the YPG, which it deems a security threat along its border akin to the Kurdish PKK insurgency on its own soil.

Turkey reached no previous agreement with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad before entering Syria's territory.

"But then they were forced to go back after artillery shooting, this file is closed for now", he said.

Kalin also denied that pro-Damascus forces crossed into the Afrin region. The Turkish forces are involved in anti-PKK raids across the country.

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A new confrontation, pitting the Turkish army directly against pro-Assad forces, would further scramble the web of alliances and rivalries already at play in northern Syria.

The YPG said in a statement that they welcomed the arrival of the pro-government forces.

"Any step by the regime or other elements in this direction will surely have serious consequences", presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin told reporters. Putin is a key backer of the Syrian government.

It gave no details, but it is believed to be a reference to an incident in the eastern province of Deir al-Zour on 7 February, when the USA military said it had killed an estimated 100 pro-Syrian government fighters in response to an attack on an allied, Kurdish-led militia force battling Islamic State militants in the area. The pro-Assad commander said Russian Federation had intervened to "delay the entry" of Syrian army troops, and so allied "popular forces" with heavy weaponry went instead. Syrian state news agency SANA reported that on February 19 president Assad had agreed to send forces to aid the YPG in Afrin after the Kurds appealed for help to protect the northern border and Turkey announced it would besiege Afrin's capital.

The UN said "the humanitarian situation of civilians in Syria's east Ghouta is spiraling out of control", and called for a permanent ceasefire.

Syria sends reenforcements to Kurdish-controlled Afrin