Casualties mount in Afrin as hundreds flee

Casualties mount in Afrin as hundreds flee
2 min read
16 March, 2018
Overnight clashes between Turkish forces and the Kurdish YPG left at least 18 dead.

Syria - Afrin resident flee

Turkish forces shelled Afrin heavily overnight on Thursday as ground forces waged battles with the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG), Reuters reported.

At least 18 people died as a result of the clashes.

"They are shelling in order to storm [AFrin]," said Brusk Hasakeh, a YPG spokesman. He said the YPG and the female YPJ force were waging battles with Turkish forces.

As fighting intensified, hundreds of families fled Afrin for nearby pro-regime areas, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Families set out towards Nubl and al-Zahra, Shia villages loyal to President Bashar al-Assad. The Syrian regime has sided with the YPG against Turkey's offensive in Afrin.

Turkey's air force also dropped leaflets in Afrin on Friday calling on Kurdish fighters to surrender. 

"Trust the hand we extend to you. Trust the justice of Turkey! Trust the Turkish Armed Forces! Come and surrender! A future filled with calm and peace awaits you in Afrin," some of the leaflets read in Arabic.  

Turkey launched Operation Olive Branch on 20 January to weed out the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) from the northern Syrian region.

Turkey considers the YPG to be the Syrian arm of the Kurdistan Workers' Party, which Ankara has been in armed conflict with for over three decades.

The US and EU classify the PKK as a terror group.

On Wednesday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Afrin would be completely encircled by the evening. If successful, the Turkish offensive could redraw the map of northern Syria as the conflict enters its eight year. 

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