ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – A long-threatened ground invasion of the Kurdish enclave of Afrin in northern Syria has begun, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Saturday.
Shortly after Erdogan’s announcement, the state-funded Anadolu Agency wrote that Turkish jets were flying over the skies in the Hatay Province and bombing Kurdish targets across the border.
Prime Minister Binali Yildirim confirmed the start of an aerial campaign on Afrin against the US-backed Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), which meant a Russian consent to the use of Syrian airspace by Turkish warplanes Ankara had been requesting.
Turkey’s military action opens a new front in Afrin which for most of the six years-long Syrian civil war remained one of the most secure and peaceful regions of the country.
Fully bomb-loaded F-16 jets were taking off from the Kurdish city of Diyarbakir where Turkey keeps one of its main military airbases.
State TV aired live images of alleged YPG positions in fire and smoke as Erdogan spoke to an audience in the Usak Province, dismissing Washington which expressed opposition to any action in Afrin.
A photo sent to Kurdistan 24 by activists in Afrin showed black smoke rising from behind residential buildings.
The Diyarbakir-based Congress for a Democratic Society co-head Leyla Guven said the attack on Afrin was a war on all the Kurds.
“There is no difference between Afrin and Amed [Diyarbakir]. The war will spread across Kurdistan. People are outraged,” Guven said in a phone interview with Kurdish Sterk TV.
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany