Erdogan threatens Kurds: Afrin will be occupied by nightfall

OMAR HAJ KADOUR

According to the Anadolu Agency correspondents on the ground, the corridor was set up for civilians, who can leave Afrin's city center from the south after Turkish army and the FSA fighters surrounded the city center.

The European Union's executive is due to approve a further 3 billion euros ($3.7 billion) in funding for Syrian refugees living in Turkey, EU officials said, before a meeting with President Tayyip Erdogan later this month.

Turkey's foreign minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, claimed that under an agreement with Washington, the Syrian Kurdish militia will leave and Turkish soldiers with USA troops will ensure the town's security. He noted that two militiamen from the pro-government forces had been killed in the first day after their arrival in Afrin, while three had been wounded.

The General Staff of Turkey announced on March 13 about complete encirclement of Afrin by the Turkish Armed Forces and Free Syrian Army.

Erdogan has declared his intention of ethnically cleansing Afrin, with the aim of transforming the overwhelming Kurdish majority into a 35 per cent minority.

France's Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian on Tuesday warned Turkey that concerns over security "absolutely do not justify" the scale of its offensive in Syria.

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"If Turkey's concerns over the border are legitimate. this absolutely does not justify the action by Turkish troops deep inside the Afrin area", he told parliament.

Earlier on Wednesday, the Turkish General Staff announced that at least 3,444 terrorists have been "neutralized" in Operation Olive Branch, which was launched in northwestern Syria's Afrin on January 20 to remove the PKK/PYD/YPG/KCK and Daesh terrorists.

Erdogan reiterated that in the Turkish-led counter-terrorist operation, the utmost care is being taken to avoid harming civilians, and that if they had not taken this care, the operation would have been over by now.

Around 350,000 people live in the city, including families displaced from other parts of the enclave.

"We are surveying the terror nests in northern Iraq at every opportunity", said Erdogan. "Soon, we will stomp very strongly on the terrorists there", he said.

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