Eli Ridder | SYRIA
On the third day of an offensive to drive out Kurdish forces, Turkish armed forces on Monday seized several villages in Afrin, located in north-western Syria.
Turkish military personnel, along with allied Syrian rebels, moved in to capture territory held by the Kurds since 2012.
Following meetings with Russia, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he would not back down from the original plan to oust Kurdish fighters, a close ally of the United States, from Afrin.
Ankara deems the Kurdish People’s Protection Units, or YPG, militia group as linked to the PKK terrorist organization located in Turkey, whom they accuse of disrupting stability in the region.
“We are determined, Afrin will be sorted out, we will take no step back,” Mr. Erdogan said in a televised speech.
Erdogan also claimed that Turkey has reached an agreement with Russia regarding the offensive.
Ankara believes the YPG is an extension of the Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK, which has been fighting for Kurdish independence from Turkey for three decades in its southeast.
The YPG is a crucial part of a United States-led coalition fighting Daesh (IS) in Syria and has denied any direct links with PKK in Turkey, an assertion backed by Washington.
Thus far, Turkey has condemned the U.S. for supporting and supplying the YPG with arms.
Conflict of interest between the two NATO members is said to have jeopardized the peaceful resolution of the Syrian conflict.
Syria’s government has made clear a Turkish invasion would be considered an act of aggression.
In the past, Washington has backed Syrian rebel groups but has since backed off from their support.
The U.S. policy is still to have President Bashar al-Assad removed as Syria’s leader.
The United States has recently been working with the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces to create a border security force with inaugural training classes already said to have started.
Image of Afrin from Al Jazeera.