Turkey begins assault on Kurdish-held enclave in Syria

Turkey has in recent days sent dozens of military vehicles to the border area with Syria and readied pro Ankara Syria rebels amid repeated threats from top officials that the operation on the town of Afrin was imminent

We review the key developments in Syria, including a government pledge to down any Turkish warplanes that attack the country, Ankara's concerns over plans to establish a Kurdish-led border force and Damascus saying that continued USA deployment in Syria is illegitimate.

"Our direct mistrust of the United States continues".

The US arms shipments began before the launch of a months-long offensive to remove ISIL from the Syrian city of Raqqa.

Turkey says it is launching a full military operation against these Kurds - which it considers a terrorist group.

The U.S. State Department has called on Turkey to focus on the fight against Islamic State militants and not take military action in Afrin.

Syria's foreign ministry on Thursday described USA military presence in Syria as "illegitimate", Reuters reported.

Turkish Chief of General Staff Gen. Hulusi Akar and National Intelligence Organization (MİT) chief Hakan Fidan were both dispatched to Moscow on Thursday to hold talks with Russian officials with an aim to receive a green light for a Turkish operation in Afrin, where the Russian Army is deployed.

"So nobody can object if we do what is necessary", said Erdogan, threatening to pursue the operations up to the Iraqi border. Ocalan is the leader of the armed Kurdish Workers' Party (PKK).

"We told the United States this", Cavusoglu said, adding that Turkey was not satisfied with USA attempts to allay its concern over U.S. support for the Kurdish-led border force.

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US President Donald Trump chose to arm YPG fighters, despite Turkey's objections and a direct appeal from Erdogan at a White House meeting in May 2017.

"We owe them an explanation".

Disagreement over the Kurdish fighters has created a sharp division between the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies.

Turkey has long protested the US support for the PYD - the Syrian offshoot of the terrorist PKK - and its military wing the YPG.

What has happened in Afrin?

A United States official told CNN that Washington was seriously concerned about a new operation and that the possibility of a full Turkish military incursion into Syria is the "major topic we are watching this weekend". It has been launched with a respect for Syria's territorial integrity, sovereignty and political unity, and will be carried out taking these principles into account.

Analysts say that crucial for any major ground operation will be approval from Moscow which has a military presence in the area and a cordial relationship with the YPG.

On Saturday, the SDF accused Turkey of using the bombardment as a smokescreen ahead of launching an offensive.

The Socialist Alliance (Australia) condemns the air, land and artillery attack by the Turskish military and the right-wing Islamic fundamentalist terrorist groups it supports on Afrin, a canton in the Democratic Federation of Northern Syria/Rojava.

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