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Syria Thousands flee Afrin as Turkish forces advance on the besieged town

THOUSANDS of mainly Kurdish civilians have begun fleeing the Afrin region of north Aleppo as Turkish troops and Turkey-backed opposition fighters approach the besieged Syrian town of the same name.

Democratic Union Party (PYD) spokesman Ebrahim Ebrahim said that the fleeing Kurds are headed towards government-controlled areas.

Mr Ebrahim added that the Turkey-backed Free Syrian Army is composed of “extremist groups,” explaining that civilians were being forced to leave after Turkish troops destroyed water and power stations that supply the town of Afrin.

He suggested that those leaving feared that Ankara’s troops and their jihadist allies might commit atrocities against the Kurds and other minorities in the town.

The invaders are virtually at the gates of Afrin, having taken the towns of Kafr Batrah, Ain Dara, Kobla and Talaf in their stride, supported by Turkish heavy artillery and air strikes.

Mr Ebrahim blamed Russia and Turkey for “war crimes that are being committed in Afrin.”

Forces of the Syrian army’s Republican Guard are deploying to the border of government and Kurdish-controlled territory in Aleppo province’s Afrin region, according to the Coventry-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

It claims that these units are reinforcing army positions along the Zahraa-Nubl axis where Turkish-backed forces are close to making contact with government lines.

They are unlikely to involve themselves in any intervention into Afrin after the collapse of talks between Damascus and the Kurdish YPG for the transfer of authority in the region to government defence forces.

The largest jihadist group in the eastern Ghouta region, just outside Damascus, announced today that it has finally agreed with Russian forces to have wounded people evacuated from the enclave.

The announcement coincides with Syrian army advances that have split eastern Ghouta into three segments after a two-week-long offensive, reasserting government control of two-thirds of the area.

Russian warplanes bombed artillery units and troop concentrations of al-Qaida affiliate Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, formerly known as Jabhat al-Nusra, in Idlib province today where they have been attacking the besieged Shi’ite-majority towns of Fouaa and Kafrayah, just north of Idlib city.

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