Published: Sat, March 24, 2018
World News | By Laverne Osborne

Turkish soldiers martyred in explosion in Afrin

Turkish soldiers martyred in explosion in Afrin

They're even more urgent after Turkish President Erdogan suggested Turkey might expand its military operations against Syrian Kurds elsewhere into northern Syria and possibly into Iraq.

There, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has unleashed his army and Syrian former rebel fighters to take Afrin from a group he sees as aligned with the outlawed Kurdish PKK group fighting within Turkey.

On Monday, the Pentagon voiced concern that Turkey's military drive could further weaken the battle against Islamic State in southern Syria, where Syrian Kurdish fighters form the backbone of the USA -led campaign. "Now we are returning from Afrin to our home because it's safer", he said. The United States is deeply concerned over the Turkish military operations in Syria's Afrin, reports Armenpress.

"After this, we will continue now to Manbij, Ayn al-Arab, Tel Abyad, Ras al-Ain and Qamishli until this corridor is fully removed", he said, referring to a string of towns along Syria's border region with Turkey.

Michael O'Hanlon, with the Brookings Institution, thinks a broader Turkish operation into northern Syria strictly to reduce the amount of territory controlled by the Kurds would not only jeopardize military gains against ISIS, but also give the Assad regime an unintended boost.

But YPG has claimed it just wants to guarantee legal and constitutional rights for Syrian Kurds.

In Afrin town, triumphant Syrian rebels stood on a fallen statue, firing shots in the air, while military vehicles patrolled streets still littered with debris from the offensive.

Stocks end modestly lower after Fed hikes rates; energy up
Fears of a trade war have also weighed on commodity prices, though tensions in the Middle East supported oil prices on Wednesday. The fall in the USA dollar after the Fed statement also helped to push gold prices up from a three week low.

Syria's seven-year war has killed more than 350,000 people and displaced more than half the country's population either inside Syria or overseas - including more than three million to Turkey. Turkey is still holding two Greek soldiers who Athens says strayed across their border on March 1 due to bad weather.

Erdogan's spokesman told CNN that Turkey was taking the reports of looting seriously and that some fighters had not apparently followed the orders of their commanders.

"The takeover of Afrin is a triumph for Erdogan domestically but it comes at very high cost for Turkey's global image and its relationship with key partners", Wolfango Piccoli, co-founder of Teneo Intelligence in London, said in an email on Tuesday.

But, the militia is Washington's main fighting ally against ISIS. "We call on all actors in Syria to remain focused on this significant threat from ISIS", the statement said.

"We're planning to restore every school in all other settlements liberated from the terrorists", he added.

Turkey considers the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) in Syria and its armed-wing YPG to be "terrorist groups" with ties to the banned Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).

Last month, Turkey granted the Russian government-owned energy firm Gazprom exemption from several million-dollar tax requirements for its pipeline operations on the Turkish continental shelf as a sign of warming cooperation between the two nations.

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