TURKEY

YPG's disruptive attacks continue in areas secured by Turkey in northern Syria

The PKK-affiliated People's Protection Units (YPG) continue to attack areas that were liberated by Turkey in northwestern Syria during two military operations targeting Daesh. This development has disrupted Ankara's efforts to provide stability in the region. YPG terrorists attacked the village of Kimar in southern Afrin, which is under the control of the Free Syrian Army (FSA), with heat-guided missiles, resulting in the death of an FSA member. After YPG terrorists opened fire in another incident, the Turkish military struck YPG positions in the north Syrian cities of Azaz and Mare on Sunday with howitzers, reportedly killing a number of terrorists.

Since 2016, Turkey's Euphrates Shield and Olive Branch operations in northwestern Syria have liberated the region, including al-Bab, Afrin and Azaz, from YPG and Daesh terrorists, making it possible for Syrians who fled the violence to return home.

However, in the town of Jinderes in Afrin, a mine planted on farm land by the YPG exploded causing the death of a farm worker who was plowing the land.

As the YPG planted mines to prevent civilians from escaping during Operation Olive Branch, the Turkish Armed Forces and the FSA have cleared hundreds of landmines and improvised explosive devices from Afrin after the offensive was complete, while driving terrorists out of Tel Rifaat and its environs in northern Aleppo province.

The YPG has organic organizational and operational ties with the PKK, a group considered a terrorist organization by the U.S., the EU and Turkey. The U.S. has provided military training and given truckloads of military support to the YPG, despite its NATO ally's security concerns.

The YPG occupied Tel Rifaat in 2016 in hopes of linking Afrin to areas under its control east of the Euphrates river, thus establishing a zone of influence along Syria's border with Turkey.

While the YPG continues its sporadic attacks on Turkish-backed opposition forces in the area, Ankara is in the last stage of preparations for an offensive east of the Euphrates to end the terrorist organization's presence.

Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said yesterday that when the time comes, Turkey will take action against terrorist elements across the border in Syria.

"When the time comes, the necessary actions will be taken both in Manbij and east of the Euphrates," Akar said, referring to Turkey's possible cross-border operation.

The minister added that Turkey's preparations for the operation are ready, underlining that, "The only target of the Turkish Armed Forces is terrorists," referring to claims of some Western publications regarding threats to locals living in the region.

Stressing that the YPG must leave northern Syria's Manbij province as soon as possible, Akar said Turkey expects the promises made for Manbij to be met. The population of Manbij is largely Arab, almost 90 percent, Akar added. "We insist that the administration of Manbij should be given to the people of Manbij."

Turkey and the U.S. signed the Manbij agreement last year which foresaw a three-month timetable for the withdrawal of the YPG from the northeastern Syrian province and joint patrols to be conducted by the militaries of both countries in order to establish stability in the region. YPG forces first gained control of the city in 2016 with the help of U.S-led coalition forces. Turkish and U.S. troops began joint patrols in Manbij on Nov. 1 as part of the Manbij agreement.

Meanwhile, presidential spokesperson İbrahim Kalın had a phone conversation with the U.S. security advisor, John Bolton. They discussed the recent developments in Syria.

Turkey sees the YPG as an extension of the PKK, which has claimed the lives of more than 40,000 people in its 30-year terror campaign against Turkey. The U.S., however, while listing the PKK as a terrorist group, has opted to continue military support for the YPG under the pretext of fighting Daesh.

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