The launch of ‘Operation Olive Branch’ by Ankara against Kurdish militias controlling the Syrian region of Afrin has raised deep concerns in Russia, the Foreign Ministry said on Saturday. Moscow urged all the parties to show restraint and respect the territorial integrity of Syria, stressing the importance of focusing international efforts on the peace process in the country after the main forces of Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) have been crushed.
Earlier Saturday, Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim confirmed that aircraft bombed targets in Afrin, and that eight F-16 aircraft were involved in the operation. “As of this moment, our brave Armed Forces have started the aerial offensive to eliminate the PYD and PKK and [Islamic State] elements in Afrin,” Yildirim said.
Senior Kurdish official, Hevi Mustafa, said Turkish warplanes had struck residential areas of Afrin, forcing people to take refuge inside their homes and in shelters, according to Reuters. He said several wounded people had arrived at local hospitals for treatment.