Eli Ridder | SYRIA
Turkey has escalated it’s artillery bombardment into airstrikes from warplanes on the Kurdish-held Afrin.
Ankara is carrying out the intensifying offensive in an effort to push Kurdish forces from the territory they have held since 2012, likely angering the United States who consider Kurds a close ally.
The People’s Protection Units, or YPG, are essential to the Syrian Democratic Forces that have worked with the U.S.-led anti-Daesh (IS) coalition to push so-called Islamic State from Syria.
Washington now is working with the SDF to create a border security force in northern Syria, much to the dismay of Ankara.
A pro-Turkish Syrian rebel force is reportedly also closing in on Afrin but the Kurds, widely considered one of the most effective anti-Daesh ground forces, said they would stand their ground and defend a claimed one million residents.
Russia said it would not get involved in the conflict.
Ankara considers the Syrian Kurds a terrorist group in league with the PKK, a widely condemned Kurdish terror group active in Turkey’s southeast, and has said for months it would clear YPG fighters from Afrin.
The Turkish defense minister described the artillery attacks as the “de facto start” of a publicly touted planned invasion of Afrin.
While Turkish diplomats, military officials and intelligence chiefs are in Moscow in an attempt to gain access to the Russian-controlled airspace above Afrin and approval from Iran, the Syrian regime made clear its opposition to a military move.
Damascus, a close ally of Russia, said it would shoot down any Turkish warplanes that entered its airspace, considering a military incursion an act of aggression, according to Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad.
Syria officially condemned the Turkish military operation in Afrin late on Saturday.
On Friday, Kurdish forces reported that 70 shells were fired into Afrin from Turkish military positions.
Image of Turkish warplanes from Democracy and Class Struggle.