Middle East

Turkey’s threatens attack ‘at any moment’ on Kurdish-held Afrin in Syria

Turkey is enraged about US plans for a Kurdish-led “border force” in Syria

—  A Turkish attack would further strain relations with the United States

—  It is unclear how Russia would respond

—  Moscow has ties with the Kurds and controls airspace in Idlib and Afrin

Turkish artillery shelled the Kurdish-held area of Afrin in northwestern Syria for the third day on Monday, as Ankara threatened to act on long-running threats to root out Kurdish forces from near its border.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned of an imminent attack on the Kurdish-held enclave located near the Turkish border, saying in televised remarks on Monday that military “preparations have been completed, the operation could start at any moment.”

Afrin is controlled by the Peoples’ Protection Units (YPG), a Kurdish militia that Ankara considers a terrorist organization linked to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) waging a four-decade insurgency inside Turkey.

A Turkish assault on Afrin would further strain ties with the United States.

The YPG is the main component of the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a force that includes Arabs and has been at the forefront of the fight against the “Islamic State” (IS).

Rojhat Roj, the YPG spokesman in Afrin, said Kurdish forces will “defend our gains, our territories” in the event of an attack.

The YPG have occasionally skirmished with the Turkish military and Turkish-backed rebels throughout the Syrian civil war.

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