Turkey resumes strikes over Syria's Kurdish Afrin

Turkey resumes strikes over Syria's Kurdish Afrin
After a brief lull, Ankara has resumed its aerial bombardment of the Syrian-Kurdish enclave of Afrin in Operation Olive Branch.
2 min read
09 February, 2018
Operation Olive Branch was launched by Turkey three weeks against Kurdish YPG militias [Getty]

Airstrikes have resumed in the Syrian Kurdish enclave of Afrin after a brief lull, Turkish military and media reported on Friday.

F-16 jets resumed their aerial bombardment late on Thursday, reported the state-run Anadolu Agency, hitting the north-western enclave's Mount Bafilun, the villages of Sheik Huruz and Kefer Jenne, and the regions of Sheran, Jinderes and Raju, among other targets.

A brief statement was released by the Turkish military saying its jets bombed a total of 19 targets, including shelters, ammunition depots and gun positions belonging to "terror" organisations. The statement added that all planes returned to base safely.

Turkish media had previously reported that Ankara had halted flights after Russia closed the airspace over Afrin in response to militants shooting down a Russian Su-25 fighter in northern Idlib province on February 3.

Ankara launched Operation Olive Branch in the northern Syrian region of Afrin three weeks ago to fight the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) militia, which Turkey sees as an extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). The PKK is designated as a terrorist group by Turkey, the US and the EU.

Washington views the YPG as a key ally in the battle against the Islamic State group, and Turkey's offensive has strained relations between the NATO partners.

Last week, Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that 935 "terrorists have been neutralised" in the operation, a figure not yet verified.  

The UN has estimated that 15,000 people have already been displaced in the offensive, and there are fears that a sustained military campaign could spark a "humanitarian tragedy" for civilians living on the Syrian-Turkish border.