Terrorist PKK-linked People's Protection Units (YPG) sent an estimated 500 terrorists from Syria's Hasakah and Ayn al-Arab (Kobani) areas to Afrin under the guise of "civilian solidarity visits," sources in Afrin and Hasakah reported Tuesday.
Last week, the terrorist group announced plans to arrange a "civilian solidarity convoy" from YPG-held parts of northern Syria to Afrin, where Turkish troops are now deployed within the framework of Operation Olive Branch.
The sources, whose names have been withheld due to security concerns, said that numerous individuals had left the YPG-held Qamishli, Darbasiyah, Malikiya, Hasakah and Kathaniya settlements on Monday for Kobani near Syria's border with Turkey.
Comprised of hundreds of cars and buses, their convoy joined other vehicles waiting at Kobani before moving into Afrin late Monday night.
The convoy, which used regime-controlled roads to enter Afrin, carried at least 2,000 people, sources say.
According to reliable sources in Afrin, a number of those in the convoy were volunteers. A significant portion of others, however, were civil servants and students forced by the YPG to take part in the exercise.
The convoy also reportedly included roughly 500 terrorists from various YPG-held areas.
Late last month, the YPG organized several demonstrations under the banner of "Solidarity with Afrin," in which civil servants and students were forced to participate, while shops in the area were forced to temporarily close their doors.
Meanwhile, Pentagon spokesperson Eric Pahon has said that the U.S. does not support YPG units who leave anti-Daesh operations to fight Turkish troops in Afrin, making a distinction between the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and its composite parts, including the YPG.
"Those forces [SDF, PYD, YPG] are more like a loose federation than say the U.S. army. They are a federation fighting under one command and one cause. If pieces of that fracture [and] move out, we are not cutting our support for the SDF as a whole, it will be those individual pieces," Pahon said in his interview that was published on Hürriyet Daily News on Tuesday while adding that US support for the SDF is limited to anti-Daesh operations and does not include resistance against Turkey.
"We cooperate with those units that are working to defeat Daesh. The units that have moved out or moved to Afrin are not U.S.-supported units," Pahon stated, though still adding that YPG terrorists are defending their home against Turkish forces.
The U.S.'s cooperation with the PKK-affiliated YPG has been a thorny issue for Turkey. Ankara has repeatedly warned against the repercussions of using one terrorist group to defeat another, while the U.S. has been touting the "effective results" of its cooperation with the YPG in the fight against Daesh. However, although the fight against Daesh has almost ended, the U.S. still continue to support the YPG with arms and military equipment.
Meanwhile on Jan. 21, the Assad regime allowed YPG terrorists in Aleppo to use regime-held roads to send arms deliveries to Afrin.
Turkey, with the support of the Free Syrian Army (FSA), launched Operation Olive Branch on Jan. 20 with the stated aim of clearing YPG and Daesh terrorists from Syria's northwestern city of Afrin.
Since the operation began, the YPG has carried out several cross-border attacks on Turkey, firing rockets into residential neighborhoods.
According to the Turkish General Staff, the ongoing operation aims to secure northern Syria's border region with Turkey and protect the civilian population from YPG terrorists.
The operation is being carried out in line with international law; past U.N. Security Council resolutions; the right to self-defense as enshrined in the U.N. charter; and respect for Syria's territorial integrity.
The Turkish military has stressed that only terrorist sites and positions are being targeted while the "utmost importance" has been attached to avoiding civilian casualties.
Afrin has been a stronghold for the YPG since mid-2012 when Assad regime forces withdrew from the area allowing the terrorist group to fill the vacuum.
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