Syria slams Turkey ‘occupation’ of Afrin, demands withdrawal

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Turkish-backed Syrian Arab fighters loot shops after seizing control of the northwestern Syrian city of Afrin from the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG). (AFP)
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Turkish-backed Syrian Arab fighters loot shops after seizing control of the northwestern Syrian city of Afrin from the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG). (AFP)
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Turkish-backed Syrian Arab fighters loot shops after seizing control of the northwestern Syrian city of Afrin from the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG). (AFP)
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Turkish-backed Syrian Arab fighters loot shops after seizing control of the northwestern Syrian city of Afrin from the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG). (AFP)
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Updated 20 March 2018
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Syria slams Turkey ‘occupation’ of Afrin, demands withdrawal

DAMASCUS: Syria's foreign ministry on Monday slammed Turkey's takeover of Afrin, demanding it "immediately" pull its forces from the northwestern city.
Ankara and allied rebel groups captured the city from the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) on Sunday, after a two-month offensive on the broader Afrin region.
The foreign ministry in Damascus sent two letters on Monday to the United Nations, protesting the capture as "illegitimate".
"Syria condemns the Turkish occupation of Afrin and the crimes it is committing there, and demands the invading forces immediately withdraw from the Syrian territory they occupied," the ministry said in its letters, according to state news agency SANA.
"Turkey's behavior and attacks do not only threaten citizens and the unity of Syria's land and people -- they also prolong the war on Syria," it added.
Damascus has repeatedly criticised Turkey for its military operations on Syrian soil, accusing it of supporting "terrorist" groups.
Pro-government militiamen even joined the fight to defend Afrin, dispatched from adjacent regime-held territory in Aleppo province.
Turkey has killed dozens of them.
The United States warned its NATO ally Turkey on Monday it is "deeply concerned" after a Turkish-led assault on the Syrian city of Afrin triggered an exodus of Kurdish civilians.
"It appears the majority of the population of the city, which is predominantly Kurdish, evacuated under threat of attack from Turkish military forces and Turkish-backed opposition forces," State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said.
"We are also concerned over reports of looting inside the city of Afrin. We have repeatedly expressed our serious concern to Turkish officials regarding the situation in Afrin," she said.


US will maintain pressure campaign on Iran, says Pompeo

Updated 4 min 46 sec ago
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US will maintain pressure campaign on Iran, says Pompeo

  • Pompeo said US does not want conflict with Tehran to escalate

WASHINGTON: The US will maintain its pressure campaign on Iran and continue to deter aggression in the region, but does not want the conflict with Tehran to escalate, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Tuesday.

"We have been engaged in many messages, even this moment right here, communicating to Iran that we are there to deter aggression," Pompeo told reporters at MacDill Air Force Base in Florida.

"President Trump does not want war and we will continue to communicate that message while doing the things that are necessary to protect American interests in the region."

Fears of a confrontation between Iran and the US have mounted since Washington blamed Iran for last Thursday's attacks on two oil tankers near the strategic Strait of Hormuz shipping lane.

In an interview with Time magazine released Tuesday, Trump said he was prepared to take military action to stop Tehran from having a nuclear bomb but left open whether he would sanction the use of force to protect Gulf oil supplies.

"Now we need to make sure that we continue to do that so that we ultimately we get the opportunity to convince Iran that it's not in their best interest to behave in this way."