Pro-Syrian government forces reach central Afrin despite Turkish shelling
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – Pro-Syrian government forces on Tuesday arrived in the Kurdish enclave of Afrin following an agreement between the government and the People’s Protection Units (YPG).
The government fighters advanced toward the Afrin region in Syrian Kurdistan after an agreement was arranged earlier to allow the Syrian troops to enter the Kurdish-controlled area.
Following the arrival of the Syrian fighters, Turkish fighter jets and artillery targeted the convoy of pro-government forces en route to Afrin.
YPG spokesperson Nouri Mahmoud confirmed the arrival of Syrian forces in an official statement. “The Syrian government responded to our call of duty and sent troops in defense of the unity of Syrian territory.”
Masoud Mohammed, a Kurdistan 24 correspondent in Afrin, said the Syrian fighters—consisting of 50 vehicles—had arrived in the Afrin canton at 4:30 p.m. local time through the Ziyarat border crossing.
Mohammed added that despite the Turkish shelling, the Syrian fighters entered Afrin and were deployed to different areas. “Five vehicles reached the center of the city,” he said.
Meanwhile, commenting on the deployment of pro-Syrian government forces, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan claimed that only 10 fighters were able to enter Afrin, adding that “those who enter the city will pay a heavy price.”
Erdogan also alleged that the Syrian forces were forced to pull back after Turkish artillery shells.
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 sees 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.
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany