Erdogan: Turkish Flags Raised Over Syrian Town
By VOA News March 18, 2018
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says the center of Afrin is entirely under the control of Turkish and allied Syrian forces and that Turkish flags have been raised over the town.
The Reuters news agency reports that a spokesman for Turkish-backed Syrian rebel fighters said earlier that the rebels had entered Afrin before dawn on Sunday, and that Kurdish YPG forces had withdrawn.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Saturday that more than 150,000 people had been displaced in Afrin since Wednesday. Turkish warplanes and artillery are reported to have struck the town of Afrin overnight.
Thousands flee Eastern Ghouta
Meanwhile in Eastern Ghouta, Russian media reported at least 20,000 people fled the region around Damascus Sunday.
The U.N. secretary-general said Friday he is "deeply concerned" about Syrians fleeing in a mass exodus from the enclaves of eastern Ghouta and Afrin.
"I profoundly regret that Resolution 2401, concerning the cessation of hostilities throughout Syria, has not been implemented," António Guterres said of the Security Council's unanimous March 4 decision that has failed to de-escalate the violence.
"The United Nations and its partners are fully mobilized to bring immediate life-saving relief to all those in need," Guterres said in a statement. "I call on all parties to ensure safe and unimpeded humanitarian access in all areas."
The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) says it has finalized plans to assist as many as 50,000 people fleeing the opposition district of eastern Ghouta, which the Syrian government has been fighting to recapture since last month.
"We have been working, planning to respond to evacuations for a while and specifically to provide shelters with emergency assistance," Marixie Mercado told reporters in Geneva.
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