Turkish military urges Kurdish fighters in Syria to surrender, ‘trust the justice’ of Ankara

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ANKARA (Reuters) – The Turkish army dropped leaflets on northern Syria’s Afrin region on Friday, calling on Kurdish fighters to surrender and “trust the justice” of Ankara, the military said, after a night of heavy shelling against the region’s biggest town.

“The Turkish Armed Forces are in Afrin to bring peace, calm and safety,” the leaflets said in Arabic and Kurdish, according to the military.

“Trust the hand we extend to you. Trust the justice of Turkey! Trust the Turkish Armed Forces! Come and surrender! A future filled with calm and peace awaits you in Afrin.”

Turkey’s military and its rebel allies launched an offensive in the Afrin region nearly two months ago against the Syrian Kurdish YPG, which Ankara considers a terrorist organisation and extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) that has waged a three-decade insurgency against the state.

Turkish forces shelled the town of Afrin heavily overnight and killed at least 18 people, a YPG spokesman said. The YPG fighters were waging battles with Turkish and their allied forces trying to storm the town, the spokesman said.

Turkey’s armed forces have been attempting to besiege the town of Afrin in recent days, and a spokesman for President Tayyip Erdogan said on Thursday that the town would be cleared of fighters “very soon.”

Turkish-backed Free Syrian Army fighters walk together in the north east of Afrin, Syria March 16, 2018. REUTERS/Khalil Ashawi
Turkish-backed Free Syrian Army fighter looks through binoculars in the north east of Afrin, Syria March 16, 2018. REUTERS/Khalil Ashawi
Turkish-backed Free Syrian Army fighter stands on a back of a truck in the north east of Afrin, Syria March 16, 2018. REUTERS/Khalil Ashawi
Turkish-backed Free Syrian Army fighters are seen in the north east of Afrin, Syria March 16, 2018. REUTERS/Khalil Ashawi

(Reporting by Tuvan Gumrukcu; Editing by David Dolan)

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