According to Turkey’s Defence Ministry, Turkish troops have opened fire at the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) for the second time since 18 January, in response to the latter’s fire from the city of Tell Rifaat.
The members of the Turkish Armed Forces, deployed in the Euphrates Shield Operation, have shot 5 howitzers in the districts of Tell Rifaat to the southeast of Afrin, according to CNN Turk.
The YPG/PKK reportedly organised two attacks targeting civilians on Afrin’s city centre on 20 January. As a result of the attacks, 10 civilians lost their lives, 18 people were injured.
In early December, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan stated that Ankara was ready to launch a new military operation against Kurdish militias — which it considers to be terrorist groups — on the eastern bank of the Euphrates as well as in Manbij, Syria, located near the Turkish border, if the United States did not facilitate the pullout of the militia from the region.
Later, the Turkish president postponed the operation following a December 14 phone conversation with US President Donald Trump, who later announced plans to withdraw US troops from Syria.
The first operation by Turkey and the Free Syrian Army (FSA) opposition forces was launched in January last year in the northern Syrian district of Afrin aimed at “clearing” the YPG and the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) from Turkey’s Syrian border. In March last year, Ankara stated that Afrin was under the complete control of the Turkish forces.