Turkey will lay siege to Syria's Afrin in coming days, warns Erdogan

Turkey will lay siege to Syria's Afrin in coming days, warns Erdogan
Turkey announced it will continue its siege of Afrin, despite Syria threatening to confront Turkish forces in the enclave, as the two powers vie for control of northern Syria.
2 min read
20 February, 2018
The Turkish siege of Afrin enters its second month on Tuesday [Getty]
Turkey will lay siege to Afrin in northern Syria after launching an offensive against Kurdish militia in the region last month, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday.

"In the coming days, swiftly, we will lay siege to the centre of the town of Afrin," Erdogan told his ruling party lawmakers in parliament. 

His remarks came as Turkey's ground and air offensive against the People's Protection Units (YPG) militia, viewed as "terrorists" by Ankara, entered its second month.

Erdogan's remarks come a day after the foreign minister declared that Turkey would battle Syrian regime troops if they enter the region of Afrin to protect Syrian Kurdish fighters.

On Sunday it was reported that Kurdish fighters had struck a deal with the Syrian regime, allowing them to enter the besieged region to help them repel Turkey's ongoing military offensive.

Although President Erdogan has repeatedly hailed the operation's success, analysts argue Ankara's forces have made slow progress, on top of straining ties with Washington and Europe.

The Turkish army has said 32 Turkish military personnel have been killed in the process.

According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitor, Syrian rebels and Turkish forces have taken 35 villages since the start of the operation, but most border Afrin.

Meanwhile, Turkish security expert Abdullah Agar said the "Olive Branch" operation forces captured around 300 square kilometres (120 square miles) of territory.

Since the operation began, the Observatory said 238 Olive Branch fighters (including Turkish soldiers) and 197 YPG fighters have been killed along with 94 civilians.

Ankara strongly denies that there have been civilian casualties, saying its armed forces are showing utmost care not to harm civilians.