Turkish troops face fierce battles in Syrian Kurdish enclave

Turkey began airstrikes against the Kurdish YPG on Saturday, followed by a ground incursion into northern Syria involving Turkish special forces and factions of the rebel Free Syrian Army.

Rescue workers in a Syrian rebel-held enclave east of Damascus accused government forces of using chlorine gas during bombardment of the area on Monday, and the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said at least 13 people had suffered suffocation.

A Turkish soldier was killed as the country pressed its offensive against Kurdish militia targets in northern Syria, the army said, confirming the operation's first Turkish fatality on its third day. The attempt by Syrian Kurds to produce a similar autonomous region on the Syria-Turkish border raised hackles in Ankara. Photo by Bulent Kilic/AFP. But, to the Turks, it has always been clear that the SDF is dominated by Syrian Kurds, and is therefore essentially a Kurdish project.

"[The campaign in Afrin] goes to the heart of Erdogan's long-held dream of destroying Kurdish self-determination-not just within Turkey, but in Iraq and Syria as well", she said. A total of 6 500 Turkish servicemen are involved in the military operation.

"We call for a halt to the bombardment and [Turkish] military operations", read the KNC statement.

Issues surrounding Turkey's stability as a USA ally arose during the attempted coup of July 2016, and have only grown during the Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan's crackdown on tens of thousands of citizens for suspected anti-government activities.

OMER TASPINAR: The main reason is Turkey's anger over USA cooperation with the Kurdish group in northern Syria. The greater military involvement of Turkey will only add to the violence, something the United States should have considered before it chose to build this border force. However, those differences do "not mean that [the KNC] will stand behind these violent attacks on civilians", he said. Former Turkish foreign minister Yasar Yakis believes an accommodation over the Kurdish question in Syria is a possible area of convergence between the United States and Russian Federation - if political and military developments do not get out of control.

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The Kurdish group, the People's Defense Units or the YPG, said the Turkey-backed forces have opened a new front, pushing their way into two other villages in the district's north. "The coalition is urged to take its responsibilities towards our forces and our people in Afrin", said Keno Gabriel, an SDF spokesman.

To give you some perspective on these figures, at the end of December 2017 James Mattis announced that the US Military would be stationing 2,000 active duty troops inside Syria at all times from this moment on in the future.

"Erdogan is stuck in such a bubble of sycophancy", said Rubin, who prior to AEI worked on the staff of the secretary of Defense and in other government-related roles.

Agnieszka Brugger, a Greens lawmaker, said the Turkish military operation demonstrated the devastating impact that German weapons sales could have overseas.

"We must stand with the isolated civilians of Afrin and defend them", Shirval al-Kurdi, a member of the KNC-aligned Kurdistan Democratic Party (PDKS), told Syria Direct on Sunday.

In August a Russian Center for Reconciliation was set up near the city of Afrin, but the personnel have now been withdrawn "to prevent potential provocation and exclude the threat to the life and well-being of Russian military [personnel]".