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63 more militants 'neutralized' in Turkey's Afrin operation
01 February 2018, 12:42 | Virginia Benson
Civilians targeted by Turkish airstrikes in Afrin Jan. 28 2018
While the reported number of so-called Free Syrian Army (FSA) fighters accompanying the Turkish army has been exaggerated, more than 3000 Syrian rebel militiamen are with the ranks as front-line soldiers.
Since the start of Turkey's operation against the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia in Afrin, several rockets have hit the Turkish border towns of Kilis and Reyhanli. One of them, 17-year-old Fatma Avlar, died from her wounds, the agency said. Many have pointed out the dubious nature of the claim that Turkey is also fighting "Islamic State" (IS) terrorists - as there is no IS presence in Afrin, where the fighting has occurred.
This is while U.S. officials regard the YPG as the most effective fighting force against the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group in northern Syria, and have substantially increased their weaponry and technology support to the group. That would be the first time two North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies have clashed. The Syrian Kurdish force is a key ally of the US -led coalition and has driven IS from large parts of northern and eastern Syria.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Saturday that the United States "needs to break its link with (the) terrorist organization and make them drop their weapons completely".
Such a scenario "essentially takes the focus off ISIS and gives ISIS manoeuvre space".
"Your determined attitude in strictly rejecting any association of terrorism with religion is being reflected on to world opinion", the Istanbul-based Bartholomew I told President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in an open letter.
In an interview with French newspaper Le Figaro, Mr Macron said Turkey must co-ordinate with allies, and that its operation inside Syria must be limited to fighting terror. Macron said he would talk to Erdogan in the coming days.
Manning said he did not know if the USA has agreed to stop arming and training its Syrian allies, another request by Turkey.
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