Turkey’s Syria offensive enters 2nd month with slow progress

Turkish-backed Syrian rebel fighters are seen in the town of Salwah, less than 10 kilometres from the Syria-Turkey border on February 19, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 20 February 2018
0

Turkey’s Syria offensive enters 2nd month with slow progress

ANKARA: Turkey’s offensive against a Kurdish militia in northern Syria will enter a second month Tuesday having made little progress while straining relations with Washington and The European Union.
Ankara on January 20 launched a cross-border air and ground operation against the People’s Protection Units (YPG) supporting Syrian rebels in the Afrin region.
Turkey views the YPG as a Syrian offshoot of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has been waging an insurgency against the Turkish state since 1984.
Although Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has repeatedly hailed the operation’s success, analysts argue Ankara’s forces have made slow progress.
The Turkish army has said 32 Turkish military personnel have been killed in the process.
According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitor, Syrian rebels and Turkish forces have taken 35 villages since the start of the operation, but most border Afrin.
Meanwhile, Turkish security expert Abdullah Agar said the “Olive Branch” operation forces captured around 300 square kilometers (120 square miles) of territory.
Since the operation began, the Observatory said 238 Olive Branch fighters (including Turkish soldiers) and 197 YPG fighters have been killed along with 94 civilians.
Ankara strongly denies that there have been civilian casualties, saying its armed forces are showing utmost care not to harm civilians.

Kurdish YPG forces

Jana Jabbour, professor of Political Science at Sciences Po university in Paris, said the Turks were “struggling to move forward” because of the “organization of the Kurdish YPG forces and their combativeness.”
She added it was important to distinguish between the political rhetoric, “even political propaganda,” and the reality on the ground.
On the ground, Turkish fighting was now focused around the area of Arab Wiran in northeast Afrin, the UK-based Observatory said.
If this is captured, pro-Ankara forces would control 50 continuous kilometers (31 miles) on Afrin’s northern border with Turkey.
The operation is likely to be further complicated after the Syrian state news agency SANA on Monday said pro-government forces were expected to enter Afrin to counter the Turkish offensive.
In response, Erdogan told Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in a phone call there would be “consequences” if the regime entered the region, according to Turkish media.
Jabbour said she doubted the regime would move into Afrin because “behind the scenes Turkish forces and Syrian forces are talking to each other,” adding Russia would not allow the regime to enter direct confrontation with Turkey.
Turkey views the YPG as a terrorist offshoot of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), blacklisted by Ankara, the United States and the European Union.


Arab group at UN condemn Israel’s decision to destroy Palestinian village

Updated 13 min 29 sec ago
0

Arab group at UN condemn Israel’s decision to destroy Palestinian village

  • The Arab group at the UN thanked the 8 EU nations that opposed Israel’s planned demolition
  • UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace also condemned the continued demolition and confiscation of Palestinian-owned buildings by Israel

DUBAI: The Permanent Representative of Oman to the United Nations, Khalifa Al-Harthy, has rejected and condemned Israel’s decision to demolish the Palestinian village in East Jerusalem.

“I would like to say that we in the Arab Group reject and condemn the Israeli plans to demolish Palestinian homes in Khan Al-Ahmar,” Al-Harthy said.

Al-Harthy, who also holds the rotating presidency of the Arab group, also thanked the eight European Union nations that opposed Israel’s planned demolition of the village and urged its government to reconsider the decision.

“We would like to express our gratitude for the statement read out by the Dutch ambassador on behalf of the European Community and the support from the international community in these difficult days,” he added.

Ambassador Riyad Mansour also expressed the Palestinian government and Palestinians’ appreciation to the European community.

“Their principled stance on their position against the Israeli government’s decision to demolish or attempt to demolish the homes of the Bedouin community in Khan Al-Ahmar is very good and commendable,” Ambassador Mansour, who is Palestine’s envoy to the UN, said.

“We hope that the international community will stand with them in their position and that of the Secretary-General to stop Israel, the occupying power, from demolishing Khan Al-Ahmar,” he added.  

Kuwait’s ambassador to the UN Mansour Al-Otaibi has reiterated that Israel must comply with Security Council Resolution 2334 and stressed that the Kuwaiti delegation was doing its utmost to ensure that the Security Council, of which Al-Otaibi is a member, would continue to pressure Israel to comply with all its resolutions.

Meanwhile, UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nikolai Mladenov condemned the continued demolition and confiscation of Palestinian-owned buildings by Israeli occupation authorities throughout the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

Mladenov told the UN Security Council on Thursday that 117 buildings have been destroyed and confiscated in East Jerusalem and Area C, displacing 145 Palestinians including 82 children, and affected the livelihoods of 950 people. Israel’s Supreme Court has rejected several petitions from the residents to prevent demolition.

Mladenov stressed that all settlement activities violate international laws and constitute a major obstacle to peace.

The international official also expressed concern over the continued deterioration of the humanitarian, security and political situation in Gaza.

The UN has exhausted its funding for emergency fuel, threatening the closure of vital health, water and sanitation facilities, while the levels of essential medicines have been critically reduced.