Operation in Syria's Afrin has begun - Recep Erdogan

Operation in Syria's Afrin has begun - Recep Erdogan

Turkish troops fired on several YPG targets in Afrin to prevent the formation of a "terror corridor" on the border, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported.

"The PKK, YPG, PYD are all the same; changing names does not change the fact that they are terror organizations", he said.

Later on Saturday the Kurds accused the Turks of launching air strikes against residential areas in Afrin.

Turkish warplanes have attacked YPG and PKK targets as Ankara moves to help opposition fighters entering the Kurdish enclave of Afrin in northern Syria.

The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that Turkish army and Kurdish forces exchanged shelling near Afrin.

At a news conference at the United Nations on Friday, Sergey V. Lavrov, Russia's foreign minister, denied reports that Russian observers were leaving Afrin in preparation for a Turkish offensive. Recent comments bash the US for their intentions of traning a special border patrol, consisting of SDF's veterans and others from local communities and different ethnic backgrounds.

Turkey had in recent days sent dozens of military vehicles to the border area and readied pro-Ankara Syria rebels in preparation for the operation against the People's Protection Units (YPG) militia which Turkey deems to be a terror organisation.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said that officials were consulting Russian Federation and Iran about the use of airspace for the operation, CNN Turk reported.

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The incursion, dubbed Operation Olive Branch, is likely to sharpen tensions between Turkey and the United States, which supports and openly arms Kurdish militias fighting ISIS.

Pentagon officials have since backtracked on how they describe the force, insisting it will operate within Syria to protect areas liberated from the Islamic State group.

In a stark warning to Turkey, Syria said on Thursday said its air defense would shoot down any Turkish jets that carry out attacks within Syria.

In the past few days, the Trump administration had urged Turkey not to pursue the attack, arguing it amounted to a distraction from the ongoing battle against Islamic State militants in their remaining strongholds in Syria.

"We don't consider them as part of our "Defeat ISIS" operations, which is what we are doing there and we do not support them".

"The U.S. must eliminate the confusion and change its stance in favor of peace and improving relations with Turkey", he said during an address to police chiefs. "We have received information from the Turkish foreign service for passing it on to the Russian authorities", the embassy's spokeswoman Irina Kasimova said.

But the USA -backed Syrian Democratic Forces - which the YPG spearheads - accused Turkey of using cross-border shelling as a false pretext to launch its offensive in Syria.