Turkey says 'Olive Branch' to continue until terrorists eliminated

Tillerson'concerned by Turkey's expanding Syria offensive

However, on 22 January, Bloomberg reported that Damascus had issued an ultimatum to the YPG forces in the region to leave their positions, or face the Turkish assault.

"The violence in Afrin disrupts what was a relatively stable area of Syria".

Analysts agree that the U.S. is finding it hard to maintain a secure footing in Syria, whose civil war has produced a complexity of overlapping national and religious interests and great power interventions somewhat reminiscent of the Thirty Years' War in 17th century Europe.

The YPG is a key USA ally against IS and played a major role in driving the extremists from much of northern and eastern Syria.

Reuters cited a senior member of the Syrian Democratic Forces backed by the USA as saying that the group had killed tens of Turkish forces and allied FSA rebels since the start of the "Olive Branch" operation, however, failing to provide an exact figure. He attributed this to fierce resistance from YPG fighters who are from Afrin, and the hilly terrain of the area.

Capt. Tarek Alkharraz, spokesman for military and police forces in Benghazi, said the first explosion went off in the Salmani neighborhood around 8:20 p.m. Tuesday and the second bomb went off a half hour later as residents and medics gathered to evacuate the wounded. "Now the United States is silent, and it's disappointing". He confirmed YPG and SDF fighters had been killed, but declined to say how many.

"The operation is being conducted against terrorist elements in the Afrin region".

Erdogan has vowed to expand Ankara's operation beyond Afrin and toward the town of Manbij, which would bring Turkish troops and their Syrian allies closer to USA forces supporting the Kurds against IS.

In Washington, there is some sympathy for the Kurdish plight.

French President Emmanuel Macron spoke Tuesday with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, expressing his concern about the operation, according to a statement from Macron's office.

Nauert said Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had a series of "serious and frank" conversations with his Turkish counterpart Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu.

Turkey on Saturday launched operation "Olive Branch" aimed at rooting out the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) militia, which Ankara sees as a terror group, from its Afrin enclave in northern Syria.

But whatever diplomatic noises Washington makes now that an apparently long-planned Turkish offensive is underway, Erdogan's decision to go ahead underlines the limits of USA influence. United Nations efforts to punish perpetrators in Syria have failed, repeatedly blocked by Syrian ally Russian Federation.

Who are the Syrian Kurdish forces, and why is Turkey trying to kill them?

"We hear and we take very seriously Turkey's legitimate security concerns", but, he added that "It detracts from efforts to fight [Daesh]".

It pits US ally and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation member Turkey against a Kurdish fighting force armed and trained by the United States as part of the fight to defeat ISIS in Syria.

The offensive into the Kurdish-dominated Afrin region has entered its fifth day and will continue, Ankara says until all "terrorists are fully eliminated".

The core dilemma for the United States appears to be whether it abandons its support for Syria's Kurds as the war against ISIS winds down, or risks a deterioration in relations with Turkey.

Although Pierini and other analysts say Erdogan is known for bluster, the former European Union diplomat adds that "if his words translate into military action, you have a real potential for clashes between the Turkish army and U.S. forces".



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