Turkey’s military and a watchdog have announced that the Turkish army and allied Syrian rebel forces have surrounded the city of Afrin in northwestern Syria, the main target of Turkey’s operation there.
The military said on Tuesday that forces encircled Afrin and also gained the control “areas of critical importance” in the region as of Monday.
The UK-based monitoring group Syrian Observatory of Human Rights (SOHR) confirmed the development in a separate statement shortly after the Turkish military’s announcement.
Turkey – together with the Syrian opposition Free Syrian Army (FSA) rebel group – launched in January an air-and-ground operation into Afrin in the northwest of Syria to vanquish the US-backed Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) fighters near its border.
Turkey considers the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) in Syria and its armed wing YPG to be “terrorist groups” with ties to the banned Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
The PKK has waged a decades-long armed fight against the Turkish state that has killed tens of thousands of people.