Turkish forces and Free Syrian Army group 'capture' Afrin city

Turkish forces and Free Syrian Army group 'capture' Afrin city

The PYD-led government of Afrin and the YPG accused Turkey of killing "hundreds of civilians" over the course of the military offensive in a statement released on Sunday afternoon local time.

"Our forces moved into the city of Afrin in the early hours of the morning", read a statement published Sunday by Operation Olive Branch-an Ankara-backed, Free Syrian Army (FSA) offensive against the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG).

The Kurdish force said they will now begin a campaign of harrassing the Turkish and Syrian rebel forces around Afrin.

The Observatory said Sunday that more than 1,500 Kurdish fighters had been killed since the start of the offensive on January 20, majority in air strikes and artillery fire.

Turkey regards the YPG as terrorists, insisting they are linked to Kurdish rebels in south-eastern Turkey.

They called on the United Nations, European powers, Muslim countries and members of the USA -led military coalition against Islamic State to "take steps to immediately avert the tragedy in Afrin and get concrete results, including withdrawal of all armed forces who entered Afrin".

Turkish soldiers gather in Afrin on March 18.

On Sunday, 13 pro-Turk fighters were killed by landmines during search operations in Afrin, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

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The Turkish army denied on Saturday allegations that it was behind an airstrike on a hospital in Afrin that killed at least 10 people, distributing drone footage it said showed the hospital intact several hours after it was said to be attacked.

"Many of the terrorists had turned tail and run away already", Recep Tayyip Erdogan told a rally commemorating the First World War Gallipoli campaign. FSA fighters encountered improvised explosive devices (IEDs) as they entered the city, Turkish state media Anadolu Agency reported.

A unit of the rebel force, which comprises several groups that fight under the banner of the Free Syrian Army, posted video of its fighters strolling through the empty streets between deserted high-rises. Erdogan has said the people of Afrin will return.

Azad Mohamed, a resident of Afrin who fled the fighting, said he spent two days on the road until he reached relatives in eastern Syria.

On January 20, Turkey launched a cross-border offensive into Syria, with the aim to dislodge Kurdish "terrorists" from Afrin.

The monument depicted the blacksmith Kawa, a legendary figure for Kurds.

Tens of thousands of civilians had either fled Afrin or were displaced inside the enclave in recent weeks, the United Nations said. Turkey says it has taken all measures to avoid civilian casualties.

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