Syrian Kurds Claim Turkey's 'Operation Olive Branch' Has Failed

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The threat of the terrorist PYD/PKK in Afrin, northwestern Syria to both local populations and Turkish territory across the border is the focus of Turkey's current Operation Olive Branch, launched on January 20.

Erdogan says the push into Afrin would stretch to the Syrian Kurdish town of Manbij and toward the border with Iraq, "until no terrorist is left".

For its part, Ankara relies on the ground for its offensive in Afrin in several Syrian rebel groups, a lot of them members of the Islamist movements, which accuse the Kurdish militias of dividing Syria by establishing its own entity in the north of the country.

"We tell them [the U.S.] 'You are our ally, why are you doing this [supporting the YPG]'?.And the answer they give is that this does not stem from a choice but rather a necessity [to fight jihadists in the region].But then, a big country like the U.S. has a huge army and potential, so is it a country that is need of a vile terrorist organization?"

The Easter Ghouta suburb of Damascus has been under intensive attack, and the United Nations says government forces are holding 400,000 people under siege there.

However, in an interview with Middle East Forum research fellow Aymenn Al-Tamimi released yesterday, YPG spokesman Nouri Mahmoud said that the group did not want to divide Syria: "We don't have a problem". In a statement released by Hawar news agency, the de facto official media channel of the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), the Kurds appealed by claiming that Turkey's aim is to occupy Syrian land. As columnist Caroline Glick notes, "Kurds, ISIS and Syrian regime forces have all destroyed Turkish tanks".

The Turkish military considers the YPG indistinguishable from the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), a USA -designated Marxist terrorist organization. However, it has been supported by the United States in the fight against Daesh.

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The SDF said in a statement Friday that the dead are 59 civilians and 43 fighters, including eight women fighters. At least 134 civilians were wounded in the weeklong clashes, it added.

As a result of broken promises by the U.S., Turkey shifted its position and vowed to clear all terrorists from northern Syria, including Manbij and the eastern parts of the Euphrates.

Erdogan said President Donald Trump asked him "not to criticize us so much" during their telephone call on Wednesday.

But Washington said it stands by Trump's "firm" and "tough" stand during his phone call with Erdogan. Quoted by the presidency, Erdogan said that once the "cleansing of terrorists" is completed in Afrin, the area will be handed back to its "principal residents". "But how can a strategic partner do such a thing to its strategic partner?"

The Turkish operation appears limited exclusively against Kurdish militias that control the city and its countryside.

Information for this article was contributed by Bassem Mroue and staff members of The Associated Press.

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