ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – A new batch of fighters loyal to the regime in Damascus have arrived in Afrin to help Kurdish troops currently involved in combat against Turkey forces in northwestern Syria, the country’s official media reported on Wednesday.
According to official Syrian media, a “second wave of additional of popular forces” arrived in Afrin to “support the people [of northern Syria]” which have been facing a month-long offensive into the Kurdish-held enclave.
The reinforcements come a day after the first batch of pro-Syrian government forces reached Afrin, helping push back Turkish forces and its allied Syrian rebels.
The decision to send in pro-government fighters earlier this week into Syrian Kurdistan’s (Rojava) angered Turkey, which warned that any force supporting the People’s Protection Units (YPG), as Ankara carries out an incursion to oust the Kurdish fighters from Afrin, would also be ‘a target.’
Syrian television reported that Ankara’s forces were unsuccessful in preventing the arrival of the first wave of Damascus-aligned troops, despite Turkish fighter jets and artillery targeting the convoy.
Turkey’s President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, claimed that only ten fighters were able to enter Afrin, adding that “those who enter the city will pay a heavy price.”
On Jan. 20, Turkey announced a military operation, with the help of Turkish-backed rebels, to drive out the YPG, Women’s Protection Units (YPJ), and the ruling Democratic Union Party (PYD) from Afrin.
Ankara views the YPG, YPJ, and PYD as a collective “terrorist” group and an extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has been waging decades of insurgency against the government in Turkey.
State-owned Anadolu Agency alleged the Turkish army had sent more than 1,200 elite units to Afrin to support the operation dubbed “Olive Branch.” The YPG has also reported the destruction of a Turkish tank and that clashes are taking place in several towns on the border between Turkey and Syria.