Early on Sunday, Turkish ground forces crossed the border and pushed into northern Syria’s Afrin province on Sunday, Ankara said after launching artillery and air strikes on a U.S.-backed Kurdish militia it aims to sweep from its border.
Turkey sent armored divisions into northwest Syria after a day of airstrikes as part of ‘Operation Olive Branch’ which bombed Kurdish YPG forces (“People’s Protection Units”) in and around Afrin to drive the US-allied Kurdish militia from the area. Turkish-backed Free Syrian Army fighters along with Turkish troops are now moving into the area, according to state-run Anadolu news agency.
1/ The ground offensive against Afrin enclave has indeed started. Clashes now inside Afrin province. Kurdish YPG claims it destroyed at least 1 Turkish tank. See video. pic.twitter.com/k81T2OPlbe
— Jenan Moussa (@jenanmoussa) January 21, 2018
“Our jets took off and started bombing. And now, the ground operation is underway. Now we see how the YPG … are fleeing in Afrin,” President Tayyip Erdogan said. “We will chase them. God willing, we will complete this operation very quickly.”
Quoted by Reuters, Erdogan also accused some of Turkey’s allies of providing the YPG with 2,000 plane shipments and 5,000 truckloads of ammunition; the comments were clearly aimed at the United States.