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Turkish forces surround Afrin city in Syria operation: army

AFP  |  Ankara 

The Turkish and allied Syrian rebels have surrounded the city of in northern controlled by that is the key target of Ankara's cross-border operation, the military said today.

The Turkish forces, who had been looking to complete the encirclement in a two-pronged movement from the east and the west, had city surrounded on Monday, the said in a statement quoted by state media, without giving further details.

The surrounding of city is a key step in Turkey's seven-week operation launched on January 20 and aimed at ousting the the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) from the Afrin region of northern

The Britain-based for Human Rights said yesterday that hundreds of civilians had already fled Afrin as advanced.

"More than 2,000 civilians have arrived in the area of Nubul" controlled by pro-regime forces, it said, adding that hundreds more were still on the road.

Afrin city -- the main urban centre in the YPG-controlled enclave on the Turkish border -- is home to around 350,000 people, the Observatory says.

It remains unclear what Turkey's next move will be, with some analysts reckoning it will be content to lay siege to Afrin for some time and allow civilians to leave to avoid a high-casualty offensive.

regards the as a terror group and a branch of militants in who have waged an insurgency for decades.

But the has been a key American ally in the fight against jihadists in and the operation has raised tensions with Turkey's NATO allies in and

Speaking on Saturday, Erdogan said after taking Afrin, Turkey's offensive would expand to key border towns controlled by the right up to the Iraqi frontier.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Tue, March 13 2018. 14:30 IST
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