Turkey plans Syria ‘safe zone’ as shelling of Kurdish area resumes


Turkey has resumed shelling a Kurdish enclave inside Syria on the third day of a military campaign that the government says aims to create a “safe zone” across the border. The fighting is ongoing in villages and towns around Afrin, which is controlled by the Kurdish Democratic Union party (PYD) and its military wing, the People’s Protection Units (YPG), which Ankara says is the Syrian arm of a terror group that has fought a decades-long insurgency inside Turkey.The Turkish prime minister, Binali Yıldırım said on Sunday the aim of the campaign, dubbed “Operation Olive Branch”, would be to create a zone inside Syria’s borders that was 30km (19 miles) deep. Turkish officials also said they wanted to significantly degrade the military capabilities of the YPG, which they say has 8,000 to 10,000 fighters in Afrin.

The “safe zone” would probably be secured and administered by Turkey’s Syrian rebel allies, creating a buffer zone with the Turkish border. Turkish officials have also hinted that it could be used as a safe area for civilians who wish to return to Syria, modelled on other parts of the country that Turkey had seized from Isis in an offensive called “Euphrates Shield” that was launched in the summer of 2016.(theguardian)…[+]