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Published On: Thu, Mar 8th, 2018

Turkey plans joint operation against PKK with Iraqi security forces: Cavusoglu

nsnbc : Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu announced from Vienna on Thursday that Turkey’s Operation Olive Branch against Kurds in northern Syria will end in May, and that Turkey, after the upcoming Iraqi elections, will launch joint operations with Iraqi security forces against the Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK) in Iraq.

A severely wounded Syrian child is seen at a hospital in Afrin on March 5, 2018. Photo courtesy of AFP, Ahmad Shafie Bilal

A severely wounded Syrian child is seen at a hospital in Afrin on March 5, 2018. Photo courtesy of AFP, Ahmad Shafie Bilal

Turkey’s assault on Afrin, launched on January 20 with Russian approval for Turkey’s use of Syrian airspace, has thus far claimed some 900 civilian casualties, including over 215 fatalities. Turkey is cooperating with a cohort of Islamist militia, generalized under the banner of the so-called Free Syrian Army, but comprising a number of terrorist organizations such as Faylaq al-Sham.

The Turkey-backed Faylaq al-Sham (a.k.a. the Sham legion) has claimed on Thursday that they taken control of Jandaris, southwest of Afrin city while other sources report about heavy clashes.  Turkish air force have been bombing Jandaris since Wednesday night to storm the town, the monitor reported, adding that the local authorities have recovered the bodies of 7 civilians killed by the airstrikes on Wednesday. Turkey has repeatedly denied they target civilians as part of their military operation but official Syrian sources reported on March 8 that up to 900 civilians had been killed or injured as a result of Turkey’s assault on Afrin.

Photo courtesy SANA.

Photo courtesy SANA.

Among the targets that reportedly were attacked are vital infrastructure including schools, water and power plants, communication towers, telephone networks and health centers. Since the beginning of the Turkish aggression on Afrin on January 20, more than 20 bakeries and several water and power plants have been destroyed, in addition to the demolition of hundreds of houses and the displacement of thousands of citizens.

Moreover, the Turkish forces targeted a convoy loaded with humanitarian aid, foodstuffs and relief materials on the way to Afrin area on February 22nd, 2018 and continued shelling of Aleppo-Afrin highway to prevent the delivery of assistance materials. Afrin Hospital could not escape the Turkish bombardment of the city with its Director Khalil Sabri saying that there has been a remarkable increase in the number of martyrs and the injured people over the past few days as the Turkish forces escalated their offensive on the towns and villages in the area, estimating the number of martyrs since the beginning of the aggression at 218 civilians, in addition to 651 injured ones.

Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu spoke to the press, claiming to have spoken with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi. After the Iraqi elections, said Cavusoglu, Turkey will conduct a joint operation with Iraq against the Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK). The Iraqi elections are scheduled for May 12. The PKK is headquartered in the mountainous Qandil region in the country’s northeast corner.

Cavusoglu also said that ex-PYD co-chair Salih Muslim is in Sweden and that Turkey has requested Sweden to detain him. Salih Muslim is currently free to travel in the European Union after he appeared before a Czech court, which granted him bail on the condition that he will return for further legal proceedings. Muslim co-founded the PYD, which Ankara considers to be to Syrian offshoot of the PKK, an allegation the PYD denies.

CH/L – nsnbc 08.03.2018

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