The Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) and the Autonomous Administration in Afrin, northwest Syria, said in a joint statement on Sunday that “the resistance in Afrin will continue until every inch of Afrin is liberated, and the people of Afrin return their villages,” according to The Region website, which publishes reports, analyses and videos from the Middle East.
The Kurdish-led administration also claimed that they asked civilians to leave in order to avoid atrocities now that the conflict has reached a new stage.
“We would like to declare that our war against the Turkish occupation and the Takfiri forces calling themselves the Free Army [FSA] has entered a new stage, and that the transition from a direct confrontation war to hit-and-run tactics is necessary to avoid the deaths of more civilians and to strike at the enemy. Our forces are everywhere in Afrin,” they said.
The YPG and the Afrin administration, furthermore, condemned Russia and Turkey directly for the occupation and blamed international silence for the current situation of the city.
“Break your silence, if [Turkish President Recep Tayyip] Erdoğan is not stopped today, he will threaten the whole world,” a YPG spokesperson said at a press conference.
Also on Sunday, former Syrian Democratic Union Party (PYD) co-chair Saleh Muslim tweeted that “Withdrawal from one battle doesn’t mean the loss of the war. Kurdish people will keep defending themselves from the planned genocide.”
The Turkish military said on Sunday it had taken complete control of the Afrin town center.
“The Afrin town center was taken under control by the Turkish Armed Forces and the Free Syrian Army,” the General Staff announced on Twitter.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had earlier announced that Turkish-backed forces took complete control of the town center at 8:30 a.m. local time.
The General Staff also posted a video on Twitter titled “The first pictures from Afrin” featuring a Turkish soldier waving a national flag and saying, “This is a gift for those who were martyred on March 18.”
The 103rd anniversary of March 18, 1915, is marked as a national day in Turkey, known as “Çanakkale Victory and Martyrs’ Day.”
The Turkish military and Free Syrian Army (FSA) fighters on Jan. 20 launched Operation Olive Branch in the Afrin region of Syria against the PYD, which Turkey sees as the Syrian extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).