'Afrin will likely be your graveyard,' Kurdish protesters inform Erdogan

Plumes of smoke rise on the air from inside Syria as seen from the outskirts of the border town of Kilis Turkey Saturday Jan. 20 2018

Turkish jets have bombed the Kurdish-controlled city of Afrin in northern Syria, as the president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, promised to expand Turkey's military border operations against a Kurdish group that has been the US's key Syria ally in the war on Islamic State.

Turkey is using self-defence under global law, and the "Olive Branch" operation is aimed at eliminating Kurdish PYD/YPG forces along with the Islamic State, the army said, accusing the YPG of using civilians as human shields. The U.S., however, has been offering military support to the Kurdish militia and even suggested days ago the establishment of a border security force in northern Syria to be dominated by Kurdish fighters, infuriating Turkey and chilling bilateral ties further. The US worries that such an operation could prove to be a distraction from defeating the last vestiges of the Islamic State group, the officials said, adding that the new Kurdish-led border force is nothing new and should not come as a surprise to the Turkish government.

Eight F-16 fighter jets took off from the Diyarbakır 8th Main Jet Base within 20 minutes at around 12:42 p.m. local time, Doğan News Agency reported. And now, the ground operation is under way.

"We have no choice but to resist", the YPG statement said. "We will chase them".

Mr Cavusoglu said Turkey wasn't satisfied with the U.S. explanation, while adding that it has no interest in colliding with the USA over the operation.

Intense Turkish artillery fire and strikes continued to hit some villages, the YPG said.

The day before, Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said that the ground operation in Syria's Afrin may start on Sunday.

"Turkey expects its allies to support its fight against terrorism in all of its forms".

Both the United States and Turkey consider the PKK a terrorist group.


The attacks follow weeks of warnings against the YPG in Syria from Erdogan and his ministers.

"France asks for an urgent meeting of the Security Council", French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian tweeted, adding he spoke to his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu by phone on Sunday.

A 30,000-strong, US-trained border force from the Syrian Democratic Forces, dominated by YPG fighters, is to be trained in Manbij.

Major Yasser Abdul Rahim, who is also the commander of Failaq al Sham, a main FSA rebel group in the operations room of the campaign, said the rebels did not seek to enter the mainly Kurdish city of Afrin but encircle it and expel the YPG.

Plumes of smoke rise on the air from inside Syria, as seen from the outskirts of the border town of Kilis, Turkey, Saturday, Jan. 20, 2018.

Turkey-backed Free Syrian Army rebel factions had captured a Kurdish village with no resistance and were clearing landmines, a Turkish official said.

The timing reflects Turkey's increased frustration with United States support for Kurdish forces in Syria, who are now in control of almost 25 per cent of the country, in areas that straddle the Turkish and Iraqi border.

Turkish air raids killed eight civilians on Sunday in the northern Syrian enclave of Afrin, according to a war monitor and a spokesman for the Kurdish forces that control the area. Since the morning, the combatants have exchanged shelling and clashed along several frontlines around Afrin, he said.

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