Sunday, March 18

"Turkish-backed forces storm Afrin city in all-out assault - BREAKING NEWS" Updated 4:37 a.m. EDT


Sputnik is reporting as breaking news that Erdogan has announced Turkish Army and "Syrian opposition" forces have taken over Afrin.
The Turkish Army and the Free Syrian Army armed opposition group have seized control over the Kurdish-held northern Syrian city of Afrin.
"Backed by the Turkish armed forces, Free Syrian Army (FSA) units entered Afrin and took complete control of the city. The majority of terrorists have fled. Our military and the opposition are defusing mines they have left," Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared as quoted by local media.
He added Ankara would do its best to fix the infrastructure in the region.
The final offensive on Afrin, which has been under control of the Kurdish militia, was launched early on Sunday morning, the Anadolu agency reported.
Erdogan's press secretary Ibrahim Kalin has earlier stated that Turkey is not going to hand in control over Afrin to Damascus.
 On January 20, Ankara, jointly with the opposition Free Syrian Army forces, launched Operation Olive Branch in Afrin in order to "clear" Turkey's Syrian border from the terrorist threat.
Turkey considers the Democratic Union Party (PYD), a Kurdish political party in northern Syria, and the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) militia to be linked to the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), listed as a terrorist organization by Ankara.Ankara's Olive Branch Operation in Afrin has been strongly condemned by Damascus, calling Turkey's move "a violation of the country's sovereignty." In response, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said that preservation of the territorial integrity of Syria is the common goal of Ankara and Damascus and that Turkish troops are not going to attack government forces in Syria.
Moscow has called for respecting Syria's integrity.

(There's so much big breaking news from the Syrian war front that Al Masdar News has installed a Breaking News ticker tape.)

BEIRUT, LEBANON (8:49 A.M. March 18 - report filed by Andrew Illingworth for AMN)

After a week of systemically outflanking the Kurdish-held city of Afrin in Syria’s Aleppo province, Turkish-backed forces have now kicked-off the operation to capture the small but nonetheless highly strategic settlement.

The assault has been confirmed by a local Syrian paramilitary fighter (belonging to the National Defence Forces) in contact with Al-Masdar News.

The ground assault on Afrin by pro-Ankara militants comes after a week of relentless bombardment of the city by Turkish jets and artillery that has ultimately served to kill hundreds.

The[re] exists unconfirmed reports that Syrian Kurdish fighters will not actually attempt to fight for Afrin and have instead abandoned the city and its remaining inhabitants, as well as virtually all of the Afrin region, to the control of Turkish coalition forces.


Let me see if FARS has a report yet on the assault. [taptaptap] No but some related reports:



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