The skirmishes come as the Turkish Armed Forces prepares to launch a cross-border operation into Syria's Afrin to rid the enclave of PKK-linked YPG.

Turkish armoured military vehicles patrol on the Turkish-Syrian border line in Reyhanli, Hatay province, Turkey on October 8, 2017.
Turkish armoured military vehicles patrol on the Turkish-Syrian border line in Reyhanli, Hatay province, Turkey on October 8, 2017. (Reuters)

Turkish security forces on Friday struck several YPG/PKK targets in the besieged Syrian border town of Afrin in order to prevent a "terror corridor" from forming along Turkey's borders.

According to information compiled by an Anadolu Agency reporter in the southern Hatay province on the border with Syria, Turkish military howitzers stationed in the Kirikhan and Hassa districts launched at least 10 rounds of artillery fire, targeting PKK/PYD nests in Afrin. 

To prevent what is effectively an attempt at creating a “terror corridor” along its southern border, Turkey is now seriously mulling over an operation in Afrin, a northern district of Syria's Aleppo province. 

An Afrin operation would be coming almost on the heels of the seven-month Operation Euphrates Shield in northern Syria, which the Turkish army carried out to secure a stretch of land between the Euphrates river and the Afrin enclave.

The operation ended in March 2017.

TRT World's Nafisa Latic has this report on the Afrin operation.

Turkey-US tensions

On Sunday the US-led coalition in Syria made a controversial announcement that it was working with the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) – a group dominated by the terrorist YPG/PKK – to set up and train a 30,000-strong Syrian border protection force.

Turkey has long protested against US support for the military group the YPG – the Syrian offshoot of the PKK – and its political wing the PYD.

Washington has called the group a "reliable ally" in its fight against Daesh in Syria even though its mother organisation, the PKK, is listed as a terrorist group by Turkey, the US, and the EU.

The PKK has waged an armed campaign against Turkey for more than 30 years, killing nearly 40,000 people.

TRT World's Andrew Hopkins has more information about the expected Turkish military operation in Afrin from Ankara.

Russians pull out

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was quoted on Friday as saying media reports about Russian military assets withdrawing from Syria's Afrin region had been denied.

"These reports have been denied," RIA news agency quoted Lavrov as saying. He did not specify who had denied them.

Anadolu Agency earlier on Friday said Russia had started withdrawing its military assets ahead of Turkey’s expected operation in Syria’s northwestern city of Afrin.

The Russian security forces deployed in northeast Kafr Jana region of Afrin city started leaving the area, an Anadolu Agency report quoted reliable sources in Afrin.

Some of the Russian security assets have reached Nubl and Zahra towns, on the outskirts of Afrin, which were currently held by the Assad regime.


Bashar al Assad’s regime handed over Afrin to the YPG without putting up a fight, and there are currently some 8,000-10,000 militants aligned with the group in the area, according to information gathered by Anadolu Agency.

PKK/PYD boost presence in Tel Abyad

Nearly 1,000 YPG militants have been deployed in the town of Tel Abyad in Syria’s northern city of Raqqah following stepped-up US reconnaissance activity in the area.

According to sources in Tel Abyad, columns of US armoured vehicles entered the town - which remains under the control of the YPG - on January 12 and 16.

The 1,000-strong YPG deployment comes after US armoured vehicles carried out two days of reconnaissance activity along Syria's border with Turkey.

The militants were deployed after US forces scouted out both sides of Tel Abyad’s border crossing with Turkey's southeastern Sanliurfa province.

The militants were reportedly redeployed from the village of Ayn Isa south of the nearby city of Kobane (Ayn al-Arab in Arabic).

The YPG has reportedly dispatched reinforcements to ten villages in the area, including Quneitra and Tel Fender near the Turkish border.

The latest deployment has raised the average number of militants deployed in each of these areas from 15 to almost 100.

Afrin operation not affect Turkey-US ties

The US Defense Department on Friday dismissed comments that a Turkish military operation against the PYD/PKK-held city of Afrin in northern Syria would throw diplomatic relations between Ankara and Washington into chaos.

“One action does not typically result in chaos or a breakdown. We have regular communication with our ally Turkey,” Pentagon spokesman Eric Pahon told Anadolu Agency, adding he would not even pass judgement on such extreme remarks.

Pahon’s comments follow remarks by some unnamed American officials to CNN that a military operation by Turkey in Afrin could undermine the fight against Daesh, spark a regional clash and throw diplomatic relations between the US and its NATO ally into chaos.

Earlier on Thursday, US State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert urged Turkey not to take any action in northern Syria, calling on Ankara to remain focused on the fight against the Daesh terrorist group.

Source: AA