Debkafiles – March 18, 2018
The Turkish army and its surrogates took control on Sunday March 18 of the Kurdish Afrin City in northern Syria, as some 200,000 Kurds fled the town of a million inhabitants. It is unclear what happened to the Kurdish YPG militia holding the town against the Turkish invaders and their local surrogate, the “Free Syrian Army. Some say they withdrew and mingled among the constant stream of refugees fleeing north towards areas under Syrian military control; others that the YPG is regrouping for a counter-offensive. But meanwhile, Turkish bulldozers knocked over the statue of a Kurdish hero in Afrin town center and surrounding buildings were arrayed with Turkish flags.
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan could boast that his army had taken control of Afrin city, although it took nearly two months to complete Operation Olive Branch and achieve its object of expelling the leading Kurdish party and militia from one of its main cantons in northern Syria.
The US and Russia went through the motions of trying to dissuade Erdogan from this path to avert the major humanitarian catastrophe which is now at hand. However, they did not actually lift a finger to stop him. The Turkish president played the game by sending delegations to Washington and Moscow to hear their arguments, but his only object was to chalk up diplomatic mileage and buy time for his army to reach its goal.