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Turkish troops seize Syrian town center from Kurdish fighters

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced Sunday that Turkish troops and their Syrian rebel fighter allies ha...

Posted: Mar 19, 2018 2:46 AM
Updated: Mar 19, 2018 2:46 AM

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced Sunday that Turkish troops and their Syrian rebel fighter allies have seized control of the town center of Afrin from Kurdish YPG fighters.

Erdogan said Turkish soldiers along with rebel factions of the Free Syrian Army took complete control of Afrin town center at 8.30 am local time.

He said mopping operations are underway and the Turkish flag has been raised in the town that sits less than 50 kilometers from the Turkish border.

"Most of the terrorists fled already," Erdogan said. "Our special forces and Free Syrian Army are clearing the remaining few terrorists and the mines that they might have left. In the center of Afrin the symbols of peace and security are flying, not the rags of a terror organization. Now the Turkish flag is flying there. The FSA flag is flying there."

Turkey launched its military offensive against US-backed Kurdish YPG militia in Afrin on January 20, supported by FSA rebel factions.

Ankara says the YPG is an extension of the PKK, a marxist Kurdish militant group that has been waging an insurgency in southeast Turkey since the 1980s.

Erdogan was speaking in Canakkale at an event to mark the anniversary of battle of the 1915 Battle of Gallipoli, one of the only major victories of Ottoman forces during the First World War, and an important moment in the history of Turkish nationalism.

More than 150,000 people have been displaced in the last few days from Afrin town, a senior Kurdish official and a monitoring group said Saturday.

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