Ankara, Jan. 21 (TNS): Turkish grounds troops pushed into the northern Syrian town of Afrin on Sunday as it stepped up artillery attacks on a US-backed Kurdish militia on its border.
Turkey’s prime minister, Binali Yildirim, confirmed on Sunday that Turkish troops were continuing their offensive inside Syria.
“The operation will be conducted at speed. This operation will also target any support provided to the terrorists in Afrin,” said Yildirim.
Yildirim told media representatives in Istanbul on Sunday that there were 8,000 to 10,000 militants in Afrin and that Turkey was resolute in its determination to cleanse all militant presence from the area.
He also said the operation planned to create a safe zone that would extend 30km into Syria’s Afrin region.
The Syrian-Kurdish YPG militia, supported by the United States but seen as a terrorist organisation by Turkey, said it had repulsed the Turks and their rebel allies after fierce clashes.
The fighting marks the second day of Turkey’s new front in the nearly seven-year-old Syrian civil war.
Under what the Turkish government has dubbed as “Operation Olive Branch,” Turkish air strikes on Saturday pounded YPG positions in Afrin province.
The military said it had hit 153 targets so far, including shelters and hideouts used by Kurdish militants. The YPG has said Turkey’s strikes killed six civilians and three of its fighters and wounded 13 civilians.