Syrian rebel fighters enter Afrin town, Kurdish forces pull out

Turkey launched its military offensive against US-backed Kurdish YPG militia in Afrin on January 20. Photograph:( Reuters )

WION Web Team New Delhi, Delhi, India Mar 18, 2018, 10.27 AM (IST)

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced that Turkish troops and the Syrian rebel fighter allies have seized control of the town center of Afrin from Kurdish YPG fighters.

A spokesman for the rebel fighters said they entered Afrin before dawn from three fronts, meeting no resistance.

“Afrin city centre is under control as of 8:30 this morning,” Erdogan told a rally marking the 103rd anniversary of the World War One Gallipoli campaign. Turkish and Free Syrian Army flags had been raised in Afrin, Erdogan said.

“Most of the terrorists have already fled with tails between their legs. Our special forces and members of the Free Syrian Army are cleaning the remains and the traps they left behind,” Erdogan said. “In the centre of Afrin, symbols of trust and stability are waving instead of rags of terrorists.”

But a war monitor said clashes continued in parts of Afrin, the main town of the Afrin region which has been under Kurdish control for years. Afrin is one of three Kurdish cantons in northern Syria on the border with Turkey.

Turkey launched its military offensive against US-backed Kurdish YPG militia in Afrin on January 20, supported by FSA rebel factions. Further, it says it will extend the offensive to other Kurdish regions where US forces are stationed alongside the YPG, an ally against Islamic State.

The fighting in a once stable pocket of northwest Syria has opened a new front in the country’s multi-sided civil war, highlighting the ever greater role of foreign powers in the seven-year-old conflict.

More than 150,000 people have been displaced in the last few days from Afrin town, a senior Kurdish official and a monitoring group said Saturday.