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  1. #1
    Thailand Expat HermantheGerman's Avatar
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    Afrin will be your graveyard,’ Kurdish protesters tell Erdogan

    Something brewing...

    ‘Afrin will be your graveyard,’ Kurdish protesters tell Erdogan (VIDEO)

    Published time: 19 Jan, 2018 04:52

    Thousands of Kurds braved the rain in the northern Syrian city of Afrin to denounce what they say is Turkish aggression. The protest comes as Ankara amassed its forces along the border, seemingly in preparation for an attack.
    Demonstrators gathered in the predominantly Kurdish city Thursday to send a message to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. “We want to tell Erdogan that his dream would vanish just as his dreams vanished when he tried to enter Kobani, so Afrin would be your graveyard,” a man filmed by RT’s Ruptly video agency said.
    “Today hundreds of thousands are protesting to tell Erdogan that the people of Afrin would never leave their land. As the people of Kobani used to say, we will never leave our soil till the end, till the last drop of blood."

    Turkey has been mobilizing its forces and tanks to the north and west of Afrin. The area is controlled by the Kurdish-led People's Protection Units (YPG) which Ankara considers to be a terrorist organization as well as being a branch of the banned Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK). Turkey is fighting the PKK in the country's south-east.
    YPG fighters, backed by US-led coalition airstrikes, have been fighting Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) terrorists in Syria. But earlier this week, coalition officials announced they would help the YPG build a 30,000-strong "border security force," setting off alarm bells in Ankara. It appears that Turkey is now gearing up for a major offensive on Afrin.
    Today the people are protesting to assure that Afrin will never fall into the Turkish traitors' hands,” said a female protester. “We as people from Afrin, we will defend our city and those fascist Turks can't defeat us, we will be defending to the last drop of blood,” added a young man. “Erdogan listen: neither you, ISIS nor FSA [Free Syrian Army], you and all of your mercenaries can't break our will and stop interfering in our land and be aware that Kurds from all countries will come to defend us.”
    The district of Afrin is home to around 500,000 civilians, including refugees from elsewhere in Syria. On Thursday morning, it was hit by Turkish artillery strikes.
    The Syrian government has warned that any incursion into Afrin by Turkish forces would be considered an act of aggression. Damascus said Syrian forces would respond accordingly, including, shooting Turkish warplanes out of the sky.

  2. #2
    Thailand Expat HermantheGerman's Avatar
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    Turkey boosting military presence along border near Syria's Afrin

    The Turkish army is steadily increasing its presence along a stretch of the Syrian border around the northern city of Afrin. Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been threatening to attack Afrin - controlled by the Syrian Kurdish armed group YPG - for almost a week.

    Turkish troops are present inside Syria on its southern edge and to the east are Turkish-backed Syrian rebels, so Afrin is effectively surrounded.

    Al Jazeera's Stefanie Dekker reports from Antakya in Turkey, near the Syrian border.
    Turkey boosting military presence along border near Syria's Afrin | Syria News | Al Jazeera

  3. #3
    Thailand Expat HermantheGerman's Avatar
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    Turkey targets Kurdish forces in Afrin: The short, medium and long story

    Turkey says it is getting ready to launch a massive assault on Kurdish forces on the other side of the border with Syria - potentially putting it in direct conflict with its Nato ally, the United States.This could be a significant new development in the Syrian civil war, which is now almost seven years old. We've boiled down why it matters.
    You can choose to read the short, medium or long story below, either by themselves or one after the other.

    Why is Turkey threatening this assault?
    One main reason: Turkey considers the US-backed Kurdish militia that controls much of north-eastern Syria a terrorist group.
    Turkey says the militia is an extension of a Kurdish rebel group it has fought for decades, and wants to prevent it consolidating its hold on Syrian territory.
    Recent news of US plans to help the militia form a 30,000-strong "border security force" alarmed Ankara.
    Turkey's president said Washington was "creating a terror army" and vowed to "suffocate" it.
    He warned of imminent operations to clear Kurdish forces from two border areas - Afrin and Manbij.

    Turkey has vowed to crush a Syrian Kurdish militia called the People's Protection Units (YPG), which it considers a terrorist group.
    Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says it is an extension of the banned Kurdistan Workers' Party, which has fought for Kurdish autonomy in Turkey for three decades.
    The YPG denies any direct links - an assertion backed by a US-led coalition whose air strikes have helped the militia and allied Arab fighters drive Islamic State militants from tens of thousands of square kilometres of Syria.
    Ankara has condemned the US for supporting the YPG and was alarmed when it emerged on Saturday that the coalition was helping it form a 30,000-strong "border security force".
    While Turkey has long threatened to clear YPG fighters from the Kurdish enclave of Afrin, in north-western Syria, and Manbij, a mainly Arab town to the east, the news appears to have brought those plans forward.

    A day after vowing to stop the US "creating a terror army on our border", Mr Erdogan declared on Tuesday that Turkish troops and allied Syrian rebels would soon destroy "nests of terror".
    Turkish tanks have been building up along the border near Afrin and troops have been shelling the enclave from inside the rebel-held Syrian province of Idlib.
    Kurdish leaders promised to defend Afrin and urged the international community to prevent Turkey targeting what they said were its 1m residents.
    Russia, the Syrian government's ally, may be key to what happens next. It is believed to have hundreds of troops in Afrin and effectively controls the enclave's airspace. A Turkish assault without its approval might prove difficult and open a new front in a war that activists say has already cost more than 340,000 lives.
    The UN says it is ready to help displaced civilians if required.
    Why is Turkey doing this now?
    o understand the seemingly imminent offensives, it's important to understand Turkey's relations with the Kurds, and who some of the main players are in the Syrian conflict.
    Why is Turkey targeting the Kurds?

    Turkey has been threatening to attack the Kurdish-controlled towns of Afrin and Manbij for some time in an attempt to counter a militia called the People's Protection Units (YPG), which it considers a terrorist group.
    Turkey sees the militia as being an extension of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which is banned in Turkey and has fought for Kurdish autonomy there since 1984.
    The YPG denies any direct military or political links with the PKK.

    The US also rejects Turkey's portrayal of the militia, which has proven to be a key ally in the battle against the jihadist group Islamic State.
    The YPG is part of an alliance with a number of ethnic Arab militias called the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). With the help of US air strikes, its fighters have captured tens of thousands of square kilometres from IS.

    Despite being part of the US-led coalition against IS, Turkey has vehemently opposed supporting the SDF and tried to stop it taking control of Syria's northern border.
    In 2016, the Turkish military supported a Syrian rebel offensive that drove IS militants out of the key towns of Jarablus and al-Bab and stopped SDF fighters moving westwards towards Afrin.
    The US dissuaded Turkey from also attempting to take the mainly Arab town of Manbij from the SDF by force, but got the YPG to agree to withdraw east of the River Euphrates. Turkish officials say that has not yet happened.
    One recent development appears to have brought forward Turkey's plans to clear YPG fighters from Afrin and Manbij.

    What's happened most recently?

    News broke on Saturday that the US was helping the SDF build a new "border security force".
    US officials said the plan was to train about 30,000 personnel - half of them SDF fighters - to help prevent infiltration by IS militants across the Turkish and Iraqi borders and parts of the River Euphrates, which effectively divides SDF- and Syrian government-held regions.
    The announcement enraged Turkey's government. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Monday that he considered the border force to be a "terror army".
    Syria's government, which has mostly avoided conflict with the Kurds, called it a "blatant attack" on its sovereignty. Russia, the government's ally, warned it was a step towards the partition of Syria.
    On Tuesday, Mr Erdogan vowed that Turkish troops and Syrian rebels would soon destroy "nests of terror" along its border, "starting with Afrin and Manbij".
    What's at stake in Afrin?

    It's significant for a few reasons:

    • Afrin is separated from Manbij and other SDF-controlled areas by a pocket of territory held by Turkish-backed rebels

    • If Afrin and Manbij were to fall, Turkish-backed forces would control a 200km (125-mile) continuous stretch of Syria's northern border west of the Euphrates

    The YPG has not said how many fighters it has in the two areas, but Turkey's state-run Anadolu news agency estimated that there were about 8,000 to 10,000 in Afrin.
    It is also not clear if US military personnel are deployed around Manbij, as they were last year.
    Why would a Turkish assault on Afrin matter?

    It could bring the interests of two Nato allies into direct conflict and also have a major impact on relations between Turkey and Russia.
    Russia is believed to have hundreds of troops in Afrin and effectively controls the enclave's airspace. An offensive without its approval might prove difficult for Turkey and open a major new front in a war that activists say has already cost more than 340,000 lives.

    Conversely, as this piece explains, if Russia were to give tacit approval to the incursion, it might bring Moscow and Ankara closer together and have implications for Turkish relations with the West.

    Secondly, a siege of Afrin could have grave humanitarian consequences.
    Kurdish officials say there could be 1m people living in Afrin.
    Leaving an enclave surrounded by territory held by the Syrian government, and mountains, would be difficult. A spokeswoman for the UN's refugee agency told the BBC that they had not yet received reports of people leaving Afrin, but that it was prepared to help if needed.

    Turkey targets Kurdish forces in Afrin: The short, medium and long story - BBC News

  4. #4
    Thailand Expat HermantheGerman's Avatar
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    Middle East

    Turkey launches airstrikes in Syria against U.S.-backed Kurdish fighters

    By Kareem Fahim and Louisa Loveluck January 20 at 4:37 PM

    ISTANBUL — With airstrikes and artillery fire, Turkey on Saturday defied U.S. appeals and opened a long-anticipated offensive on Afrin, an enclave in Syria for Kurdish militias backed by the United States.
    Turkish officials have framed the offensive as part of a wider battle against Kurdish separatists, known as the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, in Turkey’s southwest. Turkey also fears any gains in strength by the Syrian Kurds, whose territory runs along some of Turkey’s southern border.
    But the United States has opted to back the Syrian Kurds as proxy fighters against the Islamic State and as a buffer to keep the militants from trying to reclaim territory.

    The military action immediately raised concerns that it could spark conflicts among the assortment of foreign military powers present, in proximity, across northern Syria. They include Turkey, Russia and the United States. All have the Islamic State as a common foe, but, individually, they back different factions among the various armed groups in Syria.

    The latest flash point also highlighted the shifting disputes and conflicting agendas that have complicated any efforts toward ending nearly seven years of conflict in Syria. The Turkish military action came amid intensifying violence in the northern Syrian province of Idlib, where Syrian government forces are on the offensive against al-Qaeda-aligned rebels in the east of the province.

    Recent statements by U.S. military officials about plans to train border security forces that would protect a Kurdish enclave in Syria also provoked Turkey’s ire.

    “We are taking these steps to ensure our own national security,” President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in comments carried by the semiofficial Anadolu agency.

    Yet Turkish incursions could carry risks. The government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad had warned that it was prepared to fire on Turkish warplanes in the event of an attack on Afrin.
    [U.S. gives mixed signals on Kurdish force as Turkey escalates pressure]
    A Syrian government offensive is causing one of the worst surges in population displacement since Syria’s civil war began. More than 212,000 people have fled fighting around Idlib in the past month, many of them sleeping in the open as temperatures plunge and rain drenches makeshift campsites, according to the United Nations.
    On Saturday, hours after the announcement of the airstrikes, Turkey said it had struck more than 100 positions belonging to Kurdish fighters. The number of casualties was not immediately clear. The airstrikes followed days of intense Turkish artillery fire on Kurdish positions, according to residents in Afrin.

    In a statement, the U.S.-backed Kurdish force, known as the Syrian Democratic Forces, warned that the Turkish offensive “threatens to breathe new life into Daesh,” using an Arabic acronym for the Islamic State militant group.

    The Trump administration, in urging NATO-ally Turkey not to attack, had made a similar argument, saying it would distract from the ongoing battles against Islamic State militants in their remaining strongholds in Syria. There are roughly 2,000 U.S. troops in northern Syria.
    Russia, which backs Assad’s government, said it was watching developments “with concern” and called on the warring sides to “exercise mutual restraint.” Russia’s Defense Ministry said that an unspecified number of Russian troops had been moved out of the Afrin area and redeployed.
    Much about the Turkish offensive, which the government dubbed “Operation Olive Branch,” remained unclear Saturday, including whether it would be accompanied by a substantial push by Turkish ground forces and allied rebel factions.
    “The challenge is that no one knows what they intend to do,” said Aaron Stein, a resident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East.

    “Afrin will be hostile to a Turkish-backed force patrolling from permanent garrisons. The YPG in the area can retreat to the mountains for protection,” he said, referring to the Syrian Kurdish militia that controls Afrin.
    The offensive probably was prompted in part by Turkish concerns that Russia and the United States planned to broker a reconciliation between Syria’s government and the Syrian Kurdish forces. “This is anathema to Turkey for obvious reasons,” Stein said. “So they are making a statement.”

  5. #5
    Thailand Expat HermantheGerman's Avatar
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    Russian Su-25 jet downed in Syria, pilot killed – Defense Ministry

    A Russian Su-25 jet has crashed in Idlib province in north-western Syria, the Russian Defence Ministry confirmed, adding that it was probably shot down by MANPAD. The pilot ejected but was killed by militants on the ground.

    Preliminary data showed the Su-25 plane was downed by a man-portable air-defense system (MANPAD), the ministry said in a statement on Saturday.
    READ MORE: Russian missiles strike area of Su-25 downing, killing at least 30 terrorists – MoD

    The attack took place when the jet was flying over the Idlib de-escalation zone on Saturday. The pilot parachuted down into the area controlled by Al-Nusra terrorist group, the statement said. He was killed during a confrontation with the militants from an unspecified group.
    Russian Reconciliation Center for Syria together with Turkey which is also responsible for the Idlib de-escalation zone is now trying to retrieve the body of the Russian pilot, the Defense Ministry confirmed.

    Tahrir al-Sham, the extremist group linked to Al-Nusra terrorists, has claimed responsibility for the downing of the Russian aircraft, according to Reuters.
    Earlier, another militant group, Jaysh al-Nasr, which claims affiliation to the Free Syrian Army, also posted videos and statements about the Russian plane on its Twitter account. It said the jet was shot down by some air defense systems.
    In July 2016, two pilots were killed when a Russian military helicopter was downed by Islamic State militants near Palmyra. They had been attacking advancing terrorists at Damascus’ request when it was shot down.

    The Russian air campaign supporting anti-terrorist efforts by Syrian authorities lasted from September 2015 to December 2017. In mid-December, President Vladimir Putin visited the Khmeimim Airbase to announce the withdrawal of most of the Russian troop contingent from the country.
    Moscow played a vital role in the defeat of Islamic State (IS, formerly known as ISIS) terrorist group in Syria, as well as other jihadist groups, including Al-Nusra. Around 60,000 fighters were eliminated during the campaign, according to the defense ministry.

    American weapons supplied by Turkey?

  6. #6
    Thailand Expat HermantheGerman's Avatar
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    Let show beginn:

    Syrian civil war: regime forces come to Kurds' aid against Turkey in Afrin

    Entry of Syrian government-allied Shia forces into new front in country's northwest raises spectre of wider escalation
    Pro-Syrian government forces have entered the contested canton of Afrin to help Kurdish forces defend against a Turkish offensive - a further escalation in Syria’s already complex civil war.
    Footage broadcast by Hezbollah and Syrian regime-allied outlets showed convoys of tanks carrying Syrian flags and soldiers brandishing weapons entering the northwestern part of the country from Aleppo on Tuesday. Syrian state media reported they had been targeted by Turkish shellfire.
    The new forces are mostly believed to be made up of the Shia Iranian-backed Popular Mobilisation Units (PMU).
    “The Syrian government has responded to the call of the duty and sent military units on this day... to deploy along the border and take part in defending the unity of Syria's territory and borders,” Nouri Mahmoud, a spokesperson for the Kurdish YPG militia, said in a statement.
    Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan launched the air and ground offensive Operation Olive Branch last month, opening a new front in Syria’s bloody conflict which has already killed dozens of civilians and fighters on both sides.
    Turkey has been widely accused of not properly vetting the Sunni Syrian fighters it is using in the offensive. Both sides have accused the other of war crimes, targeting civilians and mutilating the bodies of fallen soldiers.
    Turkey views the Kurdish YPG as an extension of its own separatist PKK, a group designated as a terrorist organisation by Ankara as well as the EU and US.
    The YPG and broader Arab-Kurdish coalition Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have won widespread Western support over the past few years as the most effective ground force against Isis.
    In January the US pledged continued support for the YPG and SDF to ensure the jihadi militants do not form a resurgent movement, a strategy which enraged Turkey and contributed to the decision to launch the new offensive on Afrin.
    The entry of forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al Assad into the new theatre raises the spectre of a wider escalation.
    The deal was first reported on Sunday, when a Kurdish official said there was a agreement with Mr Assad's government for the army to enter Afrin and deploy along the border - but that the agreement did not extend to political relations between Damascus and the YPG.
    The two sides have at times been in direct conflict and at others have formed realpolitik alliances during the seven-year-old conflict.
    The move flies in the face of remarks from Mr Erdogan earlier on Tuesday, said Ankara had worked alongside the Syrian government’s ally Russia to prevent any deployment by pro-Syrian government forces.
    On Monday, Turkey warned it was not afraid to confront government forces if they entered Afrin to help the YPG.
    Despite international calls to halt the offensive, President Erdogan has remained bullish, repeatedly threatening that his forces could extend their offensive as far east as Manbij – which could bring them into direct conflict with the US-backed SDF coalition and stationed US troops.

    Syrian civil war: regime forces come to Kurds' aid against Turkey in Afrin | The Independent

  7. #7
    Thailand Expat jabir's Avatar
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    Dress a few prisoners in Kurdish uniforms, shoot them just inside the Turkish border together with a few more prisoners dressed in Turk uniforms, cry foul, rush in for a quickie genocide while NATO, UN, EU and USA take a nap. Worked fine 80 years ago, and 20 years before that didn't even need the theatre.

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