Turkey-backed Syrian forces seize control of Afrin's centre


It came after Kurdish YPG forces pulled out of the city over the weekend, nearly two months to the day since Turkey launched a military operation to take the town and its surrounding province. But residents described chaos as fleeing civilians were trapped by artillery and by Turkish airstrikes.

A spokesman for the Syrian rebel forces said they met no resistance as they entered Afrin on three fronts before dawn.

Pictures and video footage emerged of forces tearing down a Kurdish statue with a bulldozer.

Fighters were seen breaking into shops, restaurants and houses, before hauling off foodstuff, electronic equipment, blankets and other goods in trucks.

"Search operations to locate mines and other explosives are under way".

Kurdish news websites showed images of Syrian fighters destroying a statue symbolizing the Kurdish new year celebrations that are being held this week.

The capture of Afrin from the Kurds by Turkish-led fighters on Sunday could have major repercussions for Syria's protracted war.

Committee member Rojeen Qaqu said the demonstration "highlighted the worsening humanitarian situation and grave danger of further loss of life in Afrin City".

More news: Antonio Conte admits he will be sacked at Chelsea

"The terrorist corridor has been broken", said the Turkish president, referring to the attempts of the YPG to establish "a terror corridor" along the 900km-long Turkish-Syrian border. Erdogan has said the people of Afrin will return.

"Our war against the Turkish occupation. has entered a new phase: a switch from direct confrontation to hit-and-run attack". The Observatory puts the number of casualties at over 280 civilians, adding that more than 1,500 Kurdish fighters have been killed since Jan.20.

A Kurdish official, Hadia Yousef, said the YPG was still fighting inside the town, but had evacuated the remaining civilians because of "massacres".

More than 400 pro-Ankara rebels have also been killed, it said.

"This is a gift for those who were martyred on March 18", said a Turkish soldier as he waved the national flag in the video.

This is while U.S. officials regard the YPG as the most effective fighting force against the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group in northern Syria, and have substantially increased their weaponry and technology support to the group.

Ankara launched an offensive against the town and surrounding areas on January 20, slowly squeezing the militia and hundreds of thousands of civilians into the town center.

"Most of the terrorists have already fled with tails between their legs".