Erdogan "hopes" Afrin is liberated by this evening

Турция заявила что начала осаду сирийского Африна

Turkey-backed fighters on Tuesday had announced they had encircled the Kurdish enclave after reaching the outskirts on Saturday, raising concerns for tens of thousands of civilians trapped in the town.

As it intensifies its offensive on Afrin, Ankara is seeking to get the Trump administration to order the withdrawal of YPG militants and their USA military trainers and advisors from the northern Syrian town of Manbij.

"It sounds like Erdogan is daydreaming when he says Afrin will fall tonight", said Redur Khalil, a senior official in the YPG. Various forms of forcible transfer of populations, especially of ethnic or religious groups, are considered war crimes by the International Criminal Court.

"The air strikes targeted a checkpoint on the only road leading from Afrin to regime-controlled territory to the southeast", the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

The video [at the time 2:40] shows a militant accusing Kurdish forces elsewhere in Syria of seizing Arab villages, saying they "removed [Arab] residents and put them in camps". Hundreds of civilians have been fleeing Syria's Kurdish-majority city of Afrin this week, as Turkey-led rebels have advanced to the outskirts of Afrin city since launching an assault on the wider Kurdish enclave of the same name on January 20.

The route terrorists use to enter and exit eastern Afrin will be closed soon, Recep Tayyip Erdogan told a gathering of village and neighbourhood heads at the presidential complex in the capital Ankara on Wednesday. Ankara sees the YPG as an extension of the outlawed Kurdish PKK which has waged a decades-long insurgency at home. Syria's government deployed fighters to Afrin last month as part of an agreement with YPG to fend off the Turkish offensive. The conflict has torn the country apart.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov Wednesday claimed that Syrian rebels were planning to stage a chemical attack to give the US -led coalition a pretext to strike Damascus. With Russia's help, Assad has retaken most of the territory he had lost in the early years of the uprising.

State-run Syrian TV broadcast footage showing a group of men, women and children it says left the town of Madyara after it was captured by Syrian troops on Sunday.

Mohamed Katoub, a spokesman for the Syrian American Medical Society, which oversees a number of medical facilities in eastern Ghouta, said a list of over 1,000 patients requiring urgent care has been ready for two weeks. "The water supply has been cut off", OCHA said.

United States officials have been drumming up multiple pretexts for another strike, including more poorly documented chemical weapons incidents, Syrian offensives against rebel factions in Eastern Ghouta, and Syrian airstrikes that are either near or in a de-escalation zone in the Daraa Province.

Government forces have recently split the enclave in two and cut off the towns of Douma and Harasta. More than 1,100 people have been killed since the large-scale government offensive began on February 18.

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