syrian govt sends force supporting kurds against turks in aftin

Popular forces to arrive in Afrin within hours to support locals against Turkish aggression
Hazem Sabbagh, SANA, Feb 19 2018

ALEPPO – Popular forces are to arrive in Afrin area soon to support locals in facing the aggression launched by the Turkish regime on the area since Jan 20. The arrival of popular forces will strengthen the locals’ resilience and resistance against the Turkish aggression which targets infrastructure, public and private properties, and economic and services establishments. The Turkish regime has been waging a barbaric aggression on Afrin area for almost a month, using various types of weapons and shells including the internationally-prohibited chlorine gas, killing and injuring hundreds of civilians and destroying infrastructure, properties, and historical landmarks.

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Syria pro-govt forces to enter Afrin ‘within hours’ – state media
RT.com, Feb 19 2018

Pro-government Syrian forces are expected to enter Afrin enclave “within hours,” local media report. Earlier, an adviser to the Kurdish administration said a deal has been reached to allow Syrian forces into the embattled area. Syrian broadcaster al-Ikhbariya TV said that Assad-loyal forces will arrive in the area shortly. The reports follow the claim by the Kurdish official that the deal was reached between Damascus and the YPG. The negotiations were reportedly aimed at getting help from the Syrian government to repel the ongoing Turkish offensive on the Kurdish-held enclave of Afrin. On Sunday Reuters citied Badran Jia Kurd, an adviser to the Kurdish self-government, as saying that the military assistance agreement had been reached. Jia Kurd noted that the deal, which could see Syrian forces enter Afrin within two days, will be limited exclusively to immediate military support. He said:

When it comes to the political and administrative matters in the region, it will be agreed upon with Damascus in the later stages through direct negotiations and discussions.

Damascus has not commented on the possible agreement. The YPG spox confirmed only that a request had been made for Syrian forces to protect Afrin. Even if a deal came into force it would still rest on shaky foundations, Jia Kurd admitted. He said:

We don’t know to what extent these understandings will last, because there are sides that are not satisfied and want to make fail.

It comes just a few days after media reports indicated there were negotiations between Kurdish militias and the Syrian government, which had stalled. The Syrian government reportedly withdrew from the talks after Kurds refused to lay down their weapons in return for military assistance, an RT Arabic correspondent reported on Thursday, citing a military source. Several other networks, including Arab TV network al-Mayadin and Sputnik, ran reports based on their own sources saying that the deal had been secured, without providing any details of the conditions. Speculation about a more active role for Damascus in the Afrin confrontation arose back in January, when the Kurdish self-administration urged Damascus to protect Syrian sovereignty by sending troops to Afrin. Last Monday, YPG commander Sipan Hamo said that he would have “no problem” with the SAA intervening in the conflict to drive away the Turkish forces. Turkey, which has been carrying out Operation Olive Branch in Afrin since Jan 20, denies allegations that it has targeted civilians. Erdogan has vowed to return the enclave to its “original owner” after it is “liberated” from YPG. The offensive will allow some 500,000 displaced Syrians to return to their homes in Afrin, Turkey’s first lady Emine Erdogan said on Friday, claiming:

The aim of this operation is to ensure safety in the region.

Pres Erdogan has repeatedly indicated he would like to expand the operation further and move into Manbij, where Pindo forces are stationed. This has raised fears of a potential clash between the two NATO allies. At a recent meeting in Ankara, Rex Tillerson and Turkish Foreign Minister Cavusoglu agreed that the bilateral relations were at “a crisis point,” calling the situation around Manbij a “priority” that needed to be addressed urgently. Turkey also touted the idea of a joint Pindo-Turkish deployment in the area, on condition that Pindostan guarantees a prompt withdrawal of the YPG.

Turkey will confront Syrian troops entering Afrin to protect Kurds
RT.com, Feb 19 2018

On the back of reports that Syrian pro-government forces are to enter Afrin, Ankara said “no one can stop” its soldiers if “the regime” comes to help Kurdish militias, but added that Syrians fighting them will be “no problem.” Turkish troops will respond to Syrian pro-government forces entering the northwest Afrin province depending on their objective, Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Monday after meeting his Jordanian counterpart Ayman Safadi in Amman. Cavusoglu said, as cited by state news agency Anadolu:

If the regime enters to clear out the YPG, then there is no problem. If they are entering to provide protection to the YPG, then no one can stop Turkey or Turkish soldiers.

The minister’s remarks follow media reports indicating that pro-government Syrian forces are expected to enter Afrin in a matter of hours. Earlier on Monday, SANA reported the troops are preparing to move into the province to support the locals “facing aggression” from Turkey. Earlier, adviser to the Kurdish administration Badran Jia Kurd said a deal has been reached to allow Syrian forces into the embattled area. He told Reuters:

When it comes to the political and administrative matters in the region, it will be agreed upon with Damascus in the later stages through direct negotiations and discussions.

On the official level, the Syrian government did not confirm that an agreement had been reached, and the Kurdish militia confirmed only that a request had been made for Syrian forces to protect Afrin.

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