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21 Jan, 2018 07:40

Turkish armored division advances into Syria's Afrin

Turkish forces have launched a ground offensive on Kurdish positions in Syria’s Afrin region, the country’s military has confirmed. While Ankara says the troops have crossed the Syrian border, the YPG says they were pushed back.

On Sunday, the Turkish armed forces started the ground phase as part of ‘Olive Branch’ in the north-western Syrian region of Afrin. The Turkish military reportedly faced no serious resistance from Kurdish forces, which retreated to towns and villages, Hurriyet reported citing military sources.

Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim confirmed that tanks and military vehicles had begun to cross the Syrian border, according to Haberturk. They reportedlyadvanced some five kilometers into the Afrin region. 

READ MORE: Ground phase of Turkish attack on Afrin will start on Sunday – PM

There are conflicting reports, with the YPG spokesman Birusk Hasaka saying that Turkish troops failed to cross the border into the Afrin region as they were forced back after a fierce stand-off. The statement was reiterated by another YPG official, Nouri Mahmoudi, who said that “all the Turkish military’s ground attacks against Afrin have been repelled so far and they have been forced to retreat,” Reuters reports.

Since the launch of operation 'Olive Branch' the Turkish military has struck 153 targets, including units of Islamic State and Kurdish-linked PKK/KCK/PYD-YPG forces, which Ankara considers terrorists.

Earlier on Sunday three rockets fired from Syria hit the Turkish southern border town of Kilis according to the state-run Anadolu Agency, damaging several buildings. Military convoys with one transporter carrying several tanks were spotted nearby, at the Oncupinar gate on the Turkish side of the border, Reuters reported citing its correspondent on the ground.

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