DW – January 20, 2018
Turkish warplanes on Saturday carried out airstrikes against Kurdish positions in the northwestern town of Afrin as Turkish-backed Syrian rebel fighters launched a ground offensive.
Military officials quoted by Turkey’s state-run news agency said jets had hit more than 100 targets in the region.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced the start of the operation, dubbed “Olive Branch,” adding that it would soon be expanded to other areas.
“This will be followed by Manbij,” he said, referring to a Syrian town to the east held by US-backed Kurdish militias.
The Turkish army said the land and air assault aimed to hit positions held by the People’s Protection Units (YPG) and “Islamic State” (IS) militants. However, IS is not known to have a presence in Afrin.
Both Afrin and Manbij are under the control of the YPG, which Ankara classes as a terrorist organization allied with the Kurdish Workers’ Party (PKK), a group that is waging a long-running insurgency in Turkey.