YPG blocks exit of civilians from Afrin as Turkish forces near town center

Published 12.03.2018 16:48
Updated 12.03.2018 17:12

While the PKK-linked People's Protection Units (YPG) ringleaders flee from northwest Syria's Afrin, the terrorist group's efforts to block civilians from escaping the town are ramping up.

Civilians unwilling to be used as human shields by the terrorists who attempted to flee Afrin have been forcefully halted by the YPG.

The defensive lines and concentration centers of the YPG are mostly located in the Afrin town center. In order to secure its position, the YPG has established human shields, forcing people to move toward the town center. In addition, it has stopped Kurds and Arabs who want to go to areas under the control of the opposition or the regime.

The terrorist group is no doubt feeling the heat, as Turkish military and Free Syrian Army (FSA) forces have encircled the town in Operation Olive Branch. The Turkish military announced Monday it had only 1.5 kilometers to go to reach Afrin's town city, and is poised to move in and clear out the YPG.

Civilians have been attempting to flee Afrin, some to the region previously liberated during Operation Euphrates Shield and others to Manbij.

However, YPG is preventing civilians from continuing at checkpoints, with violence often erupting between the terrorists and civilians.

With an increasing number of civilians attempting to escape Afrin, the YPG has called in reinforcements to block the exit paths.

This development indicates the terror group is nearly losing its grip on the town center.

Chief of General Staff Gen. Hulusi Akar said yesterday that Turkey's main aim is to provide peace in the region by clearing it of terrorist organizations. "Not only the PKK, but also the Daesh terrorist organization is being cleared out from the region," he said.

The United Nations recently drew attention to the issue, saying "local authorities" continue to block the exodus of civilians from Afrin, referring to the YPG.

"The U.N. has had no direct contact with them and it is critical that people be able to move freely," U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said in response to a question from Anadolu Agency (AA). Dujarric added that nearly 5,000 civilians have managed to leave the region of northwestern Syria.

U.N. Undersecretary General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Mark Lowcock said earlier that civilians who want to leave Afrin continue to be stopped at exit points and prevented from accessing safer areas by the YPG.

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