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Afrin Op Paves the Way for the New Round of War in Syria – Syrian Official

© REUTERS / Khalil AshawiA military weapon is seen on the back of a pick-up truck near Mount Barsaya, northeast of Afrin, Syria
A military weapon is seen on the back of a pick-up truck near Mount Barsaya, northeast of Afrin, Syria - Sputnik International
Foreign forces need the Afrin offensive launched by the Turks to enflame a new round of war in the region, Syrian official Heifi Mustafa told Sputnik. For his part, Turkish academic Samir Salehah argues that Ankara's Operation Olive Branch falls within the framework of Article 51 of the UN Charter as a self-defense operation.

The Turkish Operation Olive Branch in the Syrian northwestern city of Afrin opens the door to a new phase of war in the country, Heifi Mustafa, the head of the executive council of the district, told Sputnik Arabic.

"The humanitarian situation in our region is steadily deteriorating," Mustafa said. "People are attacked from the ground and from the air. Civilians, including children from orphanages, are subjected to attacks."

He noted that thousands of refugees from other Syrian regions, who had previously found shelter in Afrin, fell under the heavy bombardment of the Turks.

According to Mustafa, "the purpose of the Afrin operation is to allow new mercenaries to enter Syria and begin the new round of war."

Turkish-backed Free Syrian Army fighters are seen near Mount Barsaya, northeast of Afrin, Syria - Sputnik International
Turkey Says Its Forces Neutralized Over 300 Terrorists in Syria's Afrin
"A lot of forces are interested in this," the Syrian official believes. "It is the US who is especially interested in the bombing of Syria's Afrin."

However, despite the heavy bombardment, the invaders cannot break into the city, as its residents are resisting the offensive, Mustafa stressed.

Speaking to Sputnik, Turkish academic Samir Salehah, said that Ankara had several reasons to launch the Afrin operation.

"First of all it was facilitated by US reports about the creation of an army of thousands in the north of Syria, dubbed 'Border Security Forces.' Ankara responded to this by striking Afrin. Thus, the Turks send a message to the Americans that their support for the Kurds is a mistake," the Turkish academic suggested.

He noted that Ankara and Moscow continue to maintain cooperation on the Syrian issue. Both countries support the steps aimed at the resolution of the crisis through negotiations in Geneva, Astana and Sochi.

The scholar stressed that Ankara calls upon the US to reconsider its policy toward the Syrian crisis and to not create obstacles in the way of its resolution. As for the legality of the Turkish military operation in Syria, it is being carried out in accordance with Article 51 of the UN Charter, as it aims to protect Turkey's national security challenged by the Syrian Kurds, Salehah said.

Turkish forces are seen near Mount Barsaya, northeast of Afrin, Syria January 22,2018 - Sputnik International
Operation Olive Branch Could Actually Improve Turkish-Syrian Ties – Analyst
Ankara launched Operation Olive Branch on January 20. However, the military campaign is not limited to Afrin. According to Turkish President Erdogan, the Turkish armed forces will also target Manjib, yet another Syrian Kurdish enclave in the north of the country, and proceed with the operation to take the entire Turko-Syrian border under control.

"By launching Operation Olive Branch, we have stopped the games of different powers who seek to implement their plans in our region," Erdogan said in an apparent reference to the Border Security Force project, announced by the Pentagon on January 14.

On January 25 Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim announced that "more than 300 terrorists" had been killed in Afrin since the beginning of the operation. The Turks regard the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) — the backbone of the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) — as an affiliate of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) designated as a terrorist organization by Ankara.

The Syrian government has denounced the operation as a violation of Syria's sovereignty. For its part, Russia has called upon all parties involved to exercise restraint and respect the Arab Republic's territorial integrity.

The views and opinions expressed by Heifi Mustafa, Samir Salehah are those of the speakers and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

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