Turkish troops seize Syrian town center from Kurdish fighters

Children sit on a truck with their belongings in north-east Afrin

A handout picture released by the official Facebook page of the Syrian Presidency on March 18, 2018, shows Syrian President Bashar al-Assad (C) talking with government troops in Eastern Ghouta, in the leader's first trip to the former rebel enclave outside Damascus in years.

"The most important points under negotiation are a ceasefire, ensuring aid for civilians and the exit of medical cases and injured people needing treatment outside Ghouta".

Mohammad al-Hamadeen said the fighters entered Afrin shortly before dawn, from the north, east and west of the town, and had not encountered any resistance.

In the past month, Syrian military units backed by Russian and Syrian airstrikes have managed to advance in Eastern Ghouta, the last major insurgent bastion near Damascus.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and Oways al-Shami of the Syrian Civil Defense said troops have taken Kafr Batna and large parts of nearby Saqba.

A number of patients requiring urgent medical attention have been evacuated from the northern pocket and some aid has entered there in recent days.

This has not yet happened in the southern pocket.

"Our special forces and members of the Free Syrian Army are cleaning the remains and the traps they left behind", Mr Erdogan said.

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Another rebel faction in control of the southern part of Ghouta says it is negotiating with the United Nations for a ceasefire.

On Sunday afternoon he said there was an agreement in principle and it would be enacted within 24-48 hours.

The military tweeted aerial footage and photographs of the town's general hospital it said were from Saturday morning, showing it was intact.

"The population is up in arms against them [militants] and now they have no other option but to surrender", the source added.

Civilians have been making their way out towards army positions on foot, hauling their belongings with them.

In late February, Russia pledged to create an evacuation corridor to allow civilians to leave Eastern Ghouta.

The Observatory said Sunday that more than 1,500 Kurdish fighters had been killed since the start of the offensive, majority in air strikes and artillery fire. The violence left almost 1,400 people dead, more than 5,000 wounded and forced tens of thousands to seek shelter in areas under government control. "The UN has delivered emergency items such as food, mattresses, blankets and hygiene kits and is preparing for further assistance to be delivered in response to the growing numbers of people arriving at the shelters", Khalaf said, describing scenes at shelters. Erdogan has said the people of Afrin will return.


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