Turkey starts aerial campaign against Syrian Kurds areas

Turkey vows to spare Afrin civilians as reports of 1st non-combatant deaths emerge

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced on Saturday the military operation in Syria's Afrin has "actively" started.

Turkey's defense minister, Nurettin Canikli, announced the Afrin operation in a live studio interview on the pro-government A Haber television network on Friday afternoon.

The Turkish defense minister announced that the army has begun bombarding Kurdish-held regions along the Syrian border as Ankara looks to destroy a US -backed border force made up largely of Kurdish militias.

Syria had warned that it was prepared to fire on Turkish warplanes in the event of an attack on Afrin, about 12 miles from Turkey's southern border.

Russian Federation has expressed concerns over the Turkish military operation against Kurdish militias in Syrian region of Afrin.

Various news reports have noted that Assad's ally Russian Federation has aligned itself with the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) and the US -backed Syria Democratic Forces (SDF), a Kurdish-Arab alliance.

Turkey considers the YPG to be an extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which has carried out a deadly, decades-long insurgency in Turkey's mainly Kurdish southeast. He is convinced that the Syrian Kurdish organization, the YFP, is really just a branch of Turkey's own PKK (which does have a terrorist past), and he is determined to destroy it.

Erdogan reacted furiously this week to an announcement of plans to create a US-backed 30,000-strong border security force in northern Syria composed partly of YPG fighters, describing it as an "army of terror".

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"The Syrian Arab Republic decisively condemns Turkish aggression against the town of Afrin, which is an inseparable part of Syria", the statement said, as quoted by the SANA news agency.

In recent days, Turkey vowed to take action against the Syrian Kurds despite their alliance with the United States.

In comments to media, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said his government was informing the Syrian government "in writing" about the Afrin assault. Although President Erdogan called the border force a "terror army", the YPG and SDF deny any terrorist links.

The coalition added that the force is a key element of its strategy to prevent the resurgence of the Islamic State group in Syria and would be deployed along Syria's border with Turkey and Iraq. "The terrorist organization will be cleansed from there". "We support them in their concerns about a safe and secure Turkish-Syrian border". On Thursday, there were demonstrations in Afrin against any Turkish offensive.

A ground offensive or continued shelling would also exacerbate the poor humanitarian situation in Afrin, which is now home to at least 800,000 civilians, including many who arrived fleeing the fighting in other parts of Syria. Turkey has also objected to that force, charging that it would place thousands of Kurdish militia fighters along Turkey's border.

Without Russian support, Turkey's intervention into Afrin would be fraught with risk, Turkish analysts said.

The air strikes were preceded by waves of artillery strikes on the Afrin region.

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