Turkey-backed forces take 'total' control of Afrin

ANI | Updated: Mar 18, 2018 23:09 IST

Ankara [Turkey], Mar 18 (ANI): Turkish-backed Syrian rebels have taken total control of the centre of the Syrian-Kurdish city of Afrin, Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Sunday.

"Units of the Free Syrian Army, which are backed by Turkish armed forces, took control of the centre of Afrin this morning at 8.30am (0530 GMT)," The Guardian quoted Erdogan as saying.

Taking Afrin has been the main objective of Turkey's Operation Olive Branch, a ground and air offensive launched on January 20, with the aim of ousting the People's Protection Units (YPG), a Kurdish militia group.

Fighters waved flags and tore down the statue of a legendary Kurdish figure after claiming the city centre.

The Turkish military also released a statement saying the city centre was under control.

"Search operations to locate mines and other explosives are under way," the statement said as per The Guardian.

Further, the military posted a video on Twitter of a soldier raising a Turkish flag on a balcony.

"Now the Turkish flag will fly over there! The flag of the Free Syrian Army will fly over there!," Erdogan said at a ceremony marking the battle to open the Dardanelles during the first world war.

The two-month Turkish-led operation was aimed at ridding the border region of a Kurdish militia that Turkey considers a terrorist group.

Afrin is one of several fronts in the Syrian war that has left 350,00 people dead and millions displaced since 2011. (ANI)

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