Turkey ready for military operation in Syria's Afrin

Turkey vows to spare Afrin civilians as reports of 1st non-combatant deaths emerge

Turkey ready for military operation in Syria's Afrin

Turkey yesterday launched a new air and ground operation to oust a Kurdish militia from their northern Syrian enclave, defying U.S. warnings that the action risked further destabilising the area after nearly seven years of civil war.

"We warn the Turkish leaders that if they start fighting in the region of Afrin, it will be seen as an aggression by the Turkish army against the sovereignty of Syria", said Syria's deputy foreign minister, Faisal Mekdad.

Thousands of people in various cities of North Syria are holding mass rallies against Turkey's probable offensive on Syria's Kurdish controlled district of Afrin, Hawar news agency reported on Thursday.

In a potentially decisive meeting, Turkey's army chief General Hulusi Akar and spy supremo Hakan Fidan held talks in Moscow on Thursday with Russian counterparts on Syria.

He also indicated that "different opinions" within the Pentagon and between the military and the State Department over U.S. support for the SDF may have been responsible for "causing problems", according to comments quoted by Turkey's Anadolu news agency.

Turkey says the YPG is a terrorist group and a branch of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party which has waged an insurgency in southeast Turkey for decades, and Canikli criticized Washington for its continued emphasis on countering Islamic State.

In a stark contradiction, however, the Pentagon and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Wednesday that the us was not creating an army or conventional border guard force.

"It's unfortunate that entire situation has been mis-portrayed, mis-described".

Ankara was outraged over Dillon's statement announcing that the coalition would establish a new "border security force" with the SDF in Syria.

Cavusoglu said Turkey wasn't satisfied with the US explanations, while adding that it has no interest in colliding with the USA over the operation.

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"We will take these steps without considering what anyone can say".

"We don't consider them as part of our "Defeat ISIS" operations, which is what we are doing there and we do not support them ..."

"Iran hopes that this operation will be ended immediately to prevent a deepening of the crisis in the border regions of Turkey and Syria".

"Other countries' views can only change the technical details and the strategy of the operation", he added. Turkey wants the YPG to retreat east of the Euphrates River.

"Russia respects Turkey's request not to have this group at the negotiation table in the Astana process".

It is a key ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and has a contingent of soldiers at the airport in the centre of Afrin.

Will this group incorporate existing forces on the ground or will the US military train, arm, and equip new fighters?

"Tomorrow (or) the day after (or) within a short period, we will get rid of terror nests one-by-one in Syria starting with Afrin and Manbij" in northern Syria, he was quoted as saying by Agence France-Presse. It has been deploying troops and tanks to the border in past weeks.

Syria and Russian Federation made statements in line with Turkey earlier in the week, opposing the reported U.S. plans to establish a border force in the north of Syria.

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