Turkish troops shell Afrin to oust US-backed Kurdish militants

Turkish artillery fired into Syria's Afrin region on Friday in what Ankara said was the start of a military campaign against the US-backed Kurdish forces
Friday, 19 January 2018 18:40

Turkey on Friday started fresh shelling of the Syrian town of Afrin in a move to oust a US-backed Kurdish militant. The Turkish government has repeatedly warned it will strike Syrian towns controlled by the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) militants, including Afrin, after the US said it was training a 30,000-strong border force there.

The operation was carried out to prevent the formation of a "terror corridor" along Turkey's borders, state-run Anadolu news agency reported.
A military convoy of 20 buses carrying Syrian opposition militants backed by Ankara also crossed over into Syria through the Öncüpınar border crossing in the Kilis province, Turkish media reported. 

'DE FACTO START'

"The operation has actually de facto started with cross-border shelling," Turkish Defence Minister Nurettin Canikli said, adding that no troops had crossed into Afrin.

"This operation will take place; the terror organization will be cleansed," Canikli said in reference to the Syrian Kurdish group, YPG, which Turkey says is an extension of the armed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).