Those who help Kurdish fighters in Afrin will become Turkey’s targets – PM Yildirim

Any party which provides logistical support to YPG militants in the Afrin region will become a target of Turkey’s military, Prime Minister Binali Yildirim has warned.

READ MORE: Turkish armored division advances into Syria's Afrin (WATCH LIVE)

When asked what would happen if the US provided logistical support to the Kurdish Peoples’s Protection Units (YPG), Yildirim stated that any party providing such support would be added to “Turkey’s targets.” The comment was made during a Sunday meeting between the prime minister and journalists in Istanbul, Hurriyet reported. 

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Yildirim also gave the latest details of operation ‘Olive Branch,’ which was launched on Saturday. “Our units entered Afrin from two sides at 11:05am [on Sunday] with the Free Syrian Army. This means the land operation has begun,” he said.

The prime minister went on to explain that the operation will take part in four phases to create a secure zone with a 30-kilometer depth. The first phase is aimed at forming a secure zone of the borders between Azaz and Afrin.

Yildirim stated that the operation is “for the [Syrian] war to end, for the peace of the local community, and for the territorial integrity of Syria,” stressing that it is “in line with international law” and being conducted “for the reason of self-defense.”

“...We're taking great care not to hurt civilians while arsenals and shelters are destroyed,” Yildirim said. However, Birusk Hasakeh of the YPG told AFP on Saturday that at least seven civilians – including a child – had been killed in airstrikes, along with three fighters; two female and one male. More than a dozen others were reportedly wounded.

Shortly after the Saturday airstrikes began, photos emerged online which appeared to show injured civilians being treated at local hospitals, many of whom were covered in blood. 

The Syrian government has condemned the Turkish campaign, while Russia has urged restraint and respect for Syria’s territorial integrity. Moscow has also emphasized the importance of focusing international efforts on the Syrian peace process following the defeat of Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS).

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