Thousands of Syrian Kurds fleeing Afrin

'War crimes by Ankara', Turkish-backed forces '1.5 km from city'

12 March, 19:01

    ISTANBUL - Thousands of people are fleeing the Syrian Kurdish enclave of Afrin, which has been under attack from Turkish-backed troops for over 50 days. The civilian population is headed towards area under Syrian government control in the Aleppo province, according to a spokesman for the Kurdish PYD, whose armed wing, the YPG, controls the center of Afrin.

    The spokesman accused Ankara of 'war crimes'. Turkish media report that those fleeing are headed for Manbej and other areas under Kurdish control in northeastern Syria. In recent hours, the Turkish army and local militias allied with it have reported arrived 1.5 km from the urban center and have cut off some power and water supply lines. The advance is continuing from the southern front, where the offensive has reportedly arrived 3.5 kilometers from the city in which tens of thousands of civilians live.

    Turkish armed forces say that a total of 1,110 square kilometers have been taken in Afrin from the YPG, closely tied to the PKK, which is considered a terrorist organization by Turkey, the US and the EU. They added that they had ''neutralized'' (killing, injuring or capturing) over 3,300 YPG and Islamic State (ISIS) ''terrorists''. The figures are not able to be independently verified on the ground.

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