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Turkish Military Enters Syrian Afrin For Ground Operation - Reports

© AFP 2023 / BULENT KILICTurkish soldiers sit on a tank driving to Syria from the Turkish Syrian border city of Karkamis in the southern region of Gaziantep, on August 27, 2016
Turkish soldiers sit on a tank driving to Syria from the Turkish Syrian border city of Karkamis in the southern region of Gaziantep, on August 27, 2016 - Sputnik International
MOSCOW (Sputnik) - Turkish tanks and military personnel have entered Syrian territory amid preparations for the ground operation in Syrian northern district of Afrin, the Yeni Safak newspaper reported on Sunday.

According to the newspaper, the Turkish tanks and troops started to enter Syrian territory from the Oncupinar border gate at 19:00 GMT and the passage continued until the early hours of Sunday morning.

Later on, NTV broadcaster said, citing a military source, that Turkish tanks were backing the offensive of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) armed opposition group on the positions of Kurdish militia in Afrin.

According to the broadcaster, the Turkish military is not facing serious resistance from the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG), which is abandoning positions at Syrian-Turkish borders and retreating deeper into the Syrian territory. 

However, a spokesman for the YPG in Afrin denied Turkish claims that its forces had entered the district.

Smoke rises from the Syria's Afrin region, as it is pictured from near the Turkish town of Hassa, on the Turkish-Syrian border in Hatay province, Turkey January 20, 2018 - Sputnik International
SDF Announces Readiness to Defend Kurds From Turkish Offensive in Syrian Afrin
The Turkish General Staff declared the launch of the operation dubbed Olive Branch against the Kurdish forces in Afrin on Saturday. The operation started at 14:00 GMT and over 70 Turkish warplanes conducted airstrikes in seven districts of Afrin, where 108 targets out of total 113 were destroyed. The military operation has already been condemned by Damascus with the Syrian Foreign Ministry calling the act a violation of Syrian sovereignty.

READ MORE: US Arms Supplies to Loyal Groups in Syria Led to Turkish Op — Russian MoD

Following the airstrike, the authorities of the Afrin canton told Sputnik that at least 10 Afrin residents had been injured in the attack.

According to media reports, during the airstrikes, the Rubar refugee camp for internally displaced persons from the province of Aleppo was damaged. Turkish warplanes also targeted a local airfield, which was used by the US forces for arms deliveries to Kurdish militia.

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