Turkish-led forces have captured the northern Syrian town of Afrin from Kurdish fighters, Turkey's president said Sunday, in a potential turning point for his two-month-old campaign to expel US -backed Kurdish forces from the border area. Meanwhile, Syrian forces have taken more than 80 percent of Eastern Ghouta, and a spokesperson from a main rebel faction told The Daily Star they were in "serious" negotiations with the United Nations about a cease-fire agreement.
Turkish forces and alllied Syrian rebels launched an operation against the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) militia in the enclave on 20 January.
The fight for Afrin, a once stable pocket of northwest Syria, has opened a new front in Syria's multi-sided civil war and highlighted the ever greater role of foreign powers in the seven-year-old conflict.
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan speaks during a meeting in Ankara, Turkey March 9, 2018.
This is while USA officials regard the YPG as the most effective fighting force against the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group in northern Syria, and have substantially increased their weaponry and technology support to the group.
Turkey has already said it had no intention of handing over Afrin to the Syrian government of President Bashar al-Assad and the area would be ruled by locals.
The fighting for the Kurdish corridor in Syria has led 150,000 to flee over the last three days, according to the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. "In the center of Afrin, symbols of trust and stability are waving instead of rags of terrorists".
A WhatsApp group run by the Kurdish-dominated Syrian Democratic Forces called the act a "blatant violation of Kurdish people's culture and history".
"In all of Afrin's sectors, our forces will become a permanent nightmare" for pro-Ankara forces, the statement said. Now the Turkish flag is flying there. But a growing number of witness accounts and social media posts indicated that the Free Syrian Army had entered. "Maybe it will be cleared by the end of the day - it's empty of (YPG) fighters, they cleared out".
Turkey is also facing internal resistance from opposition groups, who are calling for them to withdraw the military from Afrin following the victory.
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