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Centre of Syrian city seized – Turkey

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    Turkish-backed forces have taken full control of the centre of Syrian-Kurdish city of Afrin, Turkey’s president says.

    “Units of the Free Syrian Army… took control of the centre of Afrin this morning,” Recep Tayyip Erdogan said.

    The two month-long Turkish operation has been aimed at ridding Afrin, close to Turkey’s border, of a Kurdish militia it considers a terrorist group.

    Tens of thousands of people have fled. Activists say 280 civilians have died, although this is denied by Ankara.

    Troops are now reported to be combing the streets of central Afrin for fighters of the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG).

    Turkey regards the YPG as an extension of the banned Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has fought for Kurdish autonomy in south-eastern Turkey for three decades.

    The YPG denies any direct organisational links to the PKK – an assertion backed by the US, which is allied with the YPG in the battle against the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) in Syria.

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