Erdogan hopes Afrin to be captured by Wednesday evening

Erdogan hopes Afrin to be captured by Wednesday evening

Erdogan hopes Afrin to be captured by Wednesday evening

Three Turkish air strikes hit a checkpoint held by pro-Syrian-government Shi'ite militiamen on the road to Afrin in northwestern Syria on Wednesday, killing five fighters, a pro-government commander told Reuters.

Speaking to reporters on a flight to Moscow yesterday, Turkish foreign minister Ahmet Cavusoglu said that Turkey and the U.S. would decide on a plan to "safeguard" Manbij during talks between himself and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on March 19.

"We have got a little bit closer to Afrin". Ankara considers the YPG a terror organization linked to its own Kurdish insurgency.

"We urge Russian Federation to stop creating distractions and compel the Assad regime to stop brutalizing innocent Syrian citizens and allow much-needed aid to reach the people of East Ghouta and other remote areas", Pentagon spokesman Eric Pahon said.

The Shi'ite militias, which control the nearby villages of Nubl and Zahraa, recently assumed control of the position in agreement with the Kurdish YPG militia - the stated target of a Turkish offensive in the Afrin region, the commander said.

In Washington, the Pentagon said Russian Federation should focus on stopping Syrian President Bashar al-Assad from targeting innocent civilians.

Assad's comments were published on the official presidency Telegram channel Wednesday.

The Syrian conflict enters its eighth year this week.

US ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley has railed against the Syrian government's recently intensified campaign to retake the insurgent-held district of eastern Ghouta outside Damascus, accusing Syria and its Russian and Iranian allies of mounting civilian casualties. The TV showed several women carrying babies and welcoming the Syrian army, claiming the rebels were preventing civilians from leaving Eastern Ghouta.

The largest rebel group in eastern Ghouta, the Army of Islam, said it had reached an agreement with government-allied Russian forces to evacuate the wounded from the enclave.

Mohamed Katoub, a spokesman for the Syrian American Medical Society, which oversees a number of medical facilities in eastern Ghouta, said a list of over 1,000 patients requiring urgent care has been ready for two weeks. He said government forces have seized local cemeteries, forcing residents to bury their dead elsewhere. More than 1,100 people have been killed since the large-scale government offensive began on February 18.

Government forces have recently split the enclave in two and cut off the towns of Douma and Harasta.

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