Medicine

Erdogan: Turkish Flags Raised Over Syrian Town

Erdogan: Turkish Flags Raised Over Syrian Town

Later Sunday, limited fighting was reported in some pockets in Afrin town while Turkish military said it was combing the area for land mines and explosives.

Tens of thousands of civilians have passed through humanitarian corridors established by the Russian and Syrian militaries, escaping eastern Ghouta where they had been used as human shields by terrorists from Jaysh al-Islam and other militant groups. This is giving the public appearance that the fight is nearly over.

But a general evacuation of civilians and rebels was not on the table, he said. Interest in fueling more flight from the region is also likely to limit airstrikes, trying to get the population away from the combatants.

He added that some 300,000 people are still besieged in eastern Ghouta, left to choose between "dying under fire or surrendering and go to Assad's jails and slaughterhouses".

Turkey sees the YPG as a "terrorist" offshoot of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which has waged a decades-long insurgency against the Turkish state.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the Syrian government was in control of more than 80% of the area, which has been a rebel stronghold since 2012.




Eastern Ghouta, a 105-square-km agricultural region consisting of several towns and farmlands, poses the last threat to the capital due to its proximity to government-controlled neighbourhoods east of Damascus and ongoing mortar attacks that target residential areas in the capital, pushing people over the edge.

The intensity of the shelling and airstrikes have made it nearly impossible for ambulances to move and wounded people can not reach clinics, said Hamza Hassan, a surgeon working at one of the hospitals in eastern Ghouta.

It launched its campaign eight weeks ago and threatened to extend the offensive to another Kurdish-controlled region further east where USA forces are stationed alongside the YPG, Washington's ally against IS militant group in Syria. Erdogan has said the people of Afrin will return.

On Sunday, Failaq al-Rahman, the main rebel group in the southern eastern Ghouta pocket said it was negotiating with a United Nations delegation about a ceasefire, aid and the evacuation of urgent medical cases. The agency added that Turkish troops and allied Syrian opposition forces have captured 224 villages and 44 "critical points" since the operation began.

A single escape route remains open to the south to territory still held by the YPG or controlled by the Damascus government. Ankara launched Operation "Olive Branch" in Afrin two months ago, saying the area near the Turkish border needed to be secured and the YPG pushed out.


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