ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Sunday announced his allied forces in Syria have taken full control of the center of Afrin, shortly after Turkish-backed rebel groups claimed to have broken the siege on the Kurdish-held city on Sunday.
Free Syrian Army (FSA) militiamen have taken control of parts of the besieged city of Afrin in the northwestern Kurdish canton after the People’s Protection Units (YPG) allegedly withdrew from the area, Reuters reported, quoting the spokesman for the rebel group, Mohammad al-Hamadeen.
Hamadeen claimed the Turkish-backed rebels had not encountered any opposition from the Kurdish fighters in the city.
On Friday, a spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights warned the situation in Afrin would worsen for civilians and called on all sides to take “feasible precautions” to avoid loss of innocent lives.
Thousands have fled the nearly two-month-long Turkish offensive, embarking on a treacherous journey, risking shelling and explosive hazards.
Airstrikes, ground shelling, and advances on the ground by the Turkish army and its Islamist-dominated FSA proxies have killed over 250 civilians in besieged Afrin.
Turkey has vowed to expel the Syrian Kurdish YPG, which Ankara considers a “terrorist” organization and extension of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), from the border area.
Last week, the EU passed a non-binding motion urging Turkey to remove its soldiers from the Kurdish region, calling for an immediate end to Ankara’s incursion into Afrin, and stressed “the need to focus on defeating the UN-listed terrorist organizations,” mainly the Islamic State (IS) and other extremist groups in Syria.