Turkey's Erdogan says Afrin town centre 'under control'

Reuters , Sunday 18 Mar 2018

Turkish-backed Syrian rebels
Turkish-backed Syrian rebels enter the village of Qastal Koshk, north of Afrin, on March 16, 2018 after battles with Kurdish fighters (Photo: AFP)

Turkey's President Tayyip Erdogan said on Sunday the centre of Afrin was "entirely under control" and Turkish flags had been raised in the northern Syrian town, a stronghold of Kurdish YPG forces.

Turkish-backed Syrian rebel fighters took control of parts of the town of Afrin on Sunday after Kurdish YPG forces pulled out, a spokesman for the Free Syrian Army rebel fighters said.

Mohammad al-Hamadeen said the fighters entered Afrin shortly before dawn, from the north, east and west of the town, and had not encountered any resistance.

"They have taken control of parts of the town," Hamadeen told Reuters. "They are combing the streets and the houses".

Ankara, which launched its military offensive against the Kurdish YPG forces in Afrin on January 20, supported by FSA rebel factions, says the YPG is an extension of a Kurdish militant group which has been waging an insurgency in southeast Turkey since the 1980s.

More than 150,000 people have been displaced in the last few days from Afrin town, a senior Kurdish official and a monitoring group said on Saturday.

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