The Turkish army kicked off Monday a land operation from the Syrian city of Azaz in the countryside of Aleppo as part of Afrin’s Olive Branch Operation, a statement issued by the Turkish Command said.
Ankara’s military operation expanded to areas in Hasaka, where Turkish warplanes and tanks had bombed several targets.
According to the statement, Turkish Armed Forces and Free Syrian Army (FSA) fighters continue to advance in northwestern Syria, while FSA units managed to establish control over the strategic Mount Barsaya, northeast Afrin, only hours after an attack was launched against the nearby city of Azaz.
Leading Kurdish sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that Turkish forces pounded on Monday the area of Ras al-Ain-Darbassah.
Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) presidential advisor in northeastern Syria, Sihanouk Dibo spoke with the German news agency (dpa) about sporadic clashes between the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) and the Turkish army in Ras al-Ain and Malikiyah, where Turkish tanks shelled YPG positions in the village of Kharab Rashek.
Meanwhile, the United States told Turkey “let us see if we can work with you to create the kind of security zone you might need,” US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said, according to a reporter traveling with him to Paris.
A Kurdish official told Asharq Al-Awsat on Monday he expects that Brett McGurk, the US special envoy for the global coalition against the ISIS, and Army Gen. Joseph Votel, head of the US Central Command, to both arrive in Ain al-Arab to visit US troops supporting the Syrian Democratic Forces.
Meanwhile, local sources told Turkey’s Anadolu Agency that the YPG released its ISIS prisoners under the condition that they fight against the Turkish army and FSA in Afrin.
“The terrorist group struck a deal with ISIS terrorists to use them as a tool against Turkey's Operation Olive Branch in Afrin,” the source added.