Ecumenical Patriarch declares backing for Turkey campaign in Syria

31 January, 2018, 05:02 | Author: Essie Rivera
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Turkey began its offensive to expel the People's Protection Units (YPG) from a northwestern enclave in Syria on January 20 as it launched artillery and air strikes on positions in Afrin in a campaign labeled "Operation Olive Branch".

But the minority, which achieved increased autonomy on the back of Syria's seven-year-old conflict, rejects Damascus' condition of a return of federal security forces and institutions in their region.

A Russia-sponsored peace conference for Syria in the Black Sea resort of Sochi has started, after a two-hour delay. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says Turkey's incursion into a Kurdish-held enclave in Syria is progressing "successfully" and will continue until the last "terrorist" is eliminated.

Turkish authorities on Tuesday detained eight senior members of a medical association who have spoken out against Ankara's military offensive in Afrin, the country's state-run media reported. At least 5,000 civilians have fled the region because of the attack. "This is real filth, this is the honourless stance that should be said "no" to", Erdogan said.

"Surrendering Afrin to the Syrian regime, that's impossible", he said, adding however that the regime has yet to give a formal reply.

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Canikli lashed out at the Turkish opposition for criticizing Turkey's alliance with the FSA, saying that those identifying their Syrian allies as "terrorists are illiterate and being treacherous to the Turkish Armed Forces".

Syrian government official Ghassan al-Qalaa told the gathering: "I call you upon in the name of millions of Syrian to have mercy upon our country".

Before the offensive on Afrin, Russian forces that had been stationed in the area and trained YPG units withdrew, sparking accusations that Moscow had sanctioned Ankara's operation.

Gen. Votel says that the United States is not looking at pulling back in Syria, adding that the U.S. remains focused of fighting ISIS, despite ISIS having very little remaining territory in Syria. More than 300 people have been detained for social media posts criticising the campaign since it began 10 days ago.

"This might force them to agree to their demands".

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