Turkish War Planes Hit U.S.-Backed Kurdish Forces in Syria

Turkey’s military began an offensive against U.S.-backed Kurdish forces in Syria’s Afrin on Saturday, launching a series of air strikes that it said was only the beginning of an operation to oust Kurdish fighters. Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim confirmed the operation on state TV, saying Turkish troops began an offensive to “eliminate” fighters from the Kurdish Democratic Union Party and the Kurdistan Worker’s Party, groups considered terrorist organizations by the Turkish government. Afrin is controlled by a Kurdish militia known as the YPG, which fought against ISIS but has been grouped in with the other banned Kurdish groups by Ankara. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan described the operation as the start of a larger military campaign, saying forces would move on to the Syrian town of Manjib on the Turkish border next. “We know that without security in Syria, there cannot be security in Turkey,” Erodgan said. The Turkish operation comes after Washington—which supports Kurdish fighters in the region—called on Turkey to refrain from taking any military action in Syria’s Afrin, saying on Thursday “the focus needs to be on ISIS.”