US' Mattis sees risk in Turkey's operation in Syria

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Musrafa said YPG representatives met with Syrian regime officials at the Russian airbase of Hmeimim on 20 January, where the Syrian official offered to take control of Afrin from the YPG in order to protect the area from the Turkish military.

Al Jazeera reported that on 20 January, Turkish President Recep Tayyip said Turkey had agreed with Russian Federation that it would extend its military operation to include the SDF-held town of Manbij, approximately 30km west of the Euphrates river. "This clearly disrupts that effort, the Turkish incursion disrupts that effort".

But Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has promised to expand the operation, threatening to go to Manjib to the east, which the U.S-backed Kurdish fighters had liberated of Islamic State militants in 2016 and now administer.

On Tuesday the United Nations said that an estimated 5,000 people have been displaced so far of in the clashes in the Afrin region. "But at the same time, I would just say that it is much better for Turkey and for the Kurds and for the Sunnis that we have the Americans in a position to influence the situation rather than Assad", Mattis said.

On 21 January Turkey launched a military operation codenamed "Olive Branch" and advanced 8 kilometers into neighboring Syria (Afrin Province).

The Syrian government, its ally Iran and Egypt have all condemned Turkey's offensive.

The Kurds were the main ground force in the US campaign to rout Islamic State from Syria, but Turkey regards them as a separatist menace with designs on its territory. Although the official and officious statements do not say in so many words that these friendly and brotherly people had asked to be liberated by Turkey, this is the tenor of the pronouncements.

US officials arrive in Ankara to discuss Syria
US' Mattis sees risk in Turkey's operation in Syria

He noted that Ankara's operation against Kurdish fighters in Afrin, northern Syria, also risks worsening the humanitarian crisis in the area, as well as in other parts of the country.

After the Monday arrests, Human Rights Watch (HRW) blasted Ankara for its "intolerance of criticism," saying Turkish prosecutors were misusing articles of the law to "silence" journalists, government critics, and activists.

Turkey considers the YPG to be a "terrorist" group as well as the Syrian offshoot of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) which has waged a bloody three-decade insurgency against the Turkish state. "But now that the gang is gone, Turkey is fighting Afrin".

The Kurdish ANHA news agency reported earlier that at least 17 civilians have been killed in Turkish attacks.

Secretary of State Tillerson was restrained as he addressed the operation.

But with local human rights groups claiming that a growing number of civilians, including children, are being killed by Turkish bombing and artillery, global demands for restraint and a quick end to the operation are expected to grow.

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