Turkish military says has encircled Syria’s Afrin town

A Turkish military tank is seen during battles between Turkish-led forces and Kurdish fighters, on the outskirts of the town of Jandairis, in the region of Afrin, near the Turkish border on March 7, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 13 March 2018

Turkish military says has encircled Syria’s Afrin town

ANKARA: Turkey’s military and its rebel allies have encircled the northern Syrian town of Afrin, the Turkish armed forces said on Tuesday, marking as substantial advance in Turkey’s offensive against Kurdish fighters across its southern border.
Turkey launched its operation, dubbed “Olive Branch,” in northern Syria nearly two months ago to sweep the Syrian Kurdish YPG from the Turkish border. Turkey sees the YPG as a terrorist group and an extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).
The forces encircled Afrin town and also captured “areas of critical importance” in the region as of Monday, the Turkish military said in a statement.
On Monday, a Turkish government spokesman said the armed forces had gained control of more than half the area and vowed to clear the Afrin town of militants.
President Tayyip Erdogan last week said Turkish forces had besieged the Afrin town and were nearing its town center, but a YPG spokesman later denied this, saying the regions claimed to be under Turkish control were still battlegrounds.
Since the start of its offensive, Turkey has also threatened to push its military operations to Manbij, further east, to sweep Syrian Kurdish fighters from the length of its borders.
Turkey’s repeated threats to push to Manbij have caused complications with NATO ally the United States, which has its troops deployed in the area and is backing the YPG in the fight against Islamic State, a move that has infuriated Ankara.


US lawmakers set measure opposing Trump on Syria troop withdrawal

In this file photo taken on September 8, 2019 US troops walk past a Turkish military vehicle during a joint patrol with Turkish troops in the Syrian village of al-Hashisha on the outskirts of Tal Abyad town along the border with Turkish troops. (AFP)
Updated 16 October 2019

US lawmakers set measure opposing Trump on Syria troop withdrawal

  • Senate and House aides said lawmakers were working on legislation to impose stiffer sanctions on Turkey, hoping to force Turkish President Erdogan to halt his military campaign in northeastern Syria

WASHINGTON: US Democratic lawmakers, joined by some of President Donald Trump’s fellow Republicans, introduced a resolution on Tuesday opposing Trump’s decision to withdraw US forces from Syria, the latest sign of deep disapproval in Congress of his action.
“We have always maintained that, while certainly needed, a sanctions package alone is insufficient for reversing this humanitarian disaster,” House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said in a statement introducing the resolution.
In addition to Pelosi and Schumer, the resolution was led by Representatives Eliot Engel, the Democratic chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and Mike McCaul, the committee’s top Republican.
It also is backed by Senators Bob Menendez, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Todd Young, a Republican member of that panel.
Senate and House aides said lawmakers were working on legislation to impose stiffer sanctions on Turkey, hoping to force Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan to halt his military campaign in northeastern Syria.
Several sanctions bills were introduced in the Senate and House, supported by Democrats and some of Trump’s fellow Republicans, before Trump said he would impose sanctions.
Trump announced a set of sanctions on Monday to punish Ankara, and a senior Trump administration official said on Tuesday that Washington would threaten more sanctions to persuade Turkey to reach a cease-fire and halt its offensive. The measures — mainly a hike in steel tariffs and a pause in trade talks — were less robust than financial markets had anticipated. Trump’s critics derided them as too feeble to have an impact, and the Turkish currency recovered.