Syria: US-Turkey meeting 'postponed' after Tillerson fired

Russia in Syria

The operation is being carried out under the framework of Turkey's rights based on worldwide law, UN Security Council resolutions, its self-defense rights under the UN charter, and respect for Syria's territorial integrity, it said.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said earlier he hoped his military and its allies would completely capture the Syrian town by Wednesday evening.

Turkish and allied forces have nearly encircled Afrin city, from which thousands started fleeing when it became apparent Ankara's goal was nothing short of full capture.

Government forces have recaptured around half of the area, and it now seems only a matter of time before eastern Ghouta joins the list of locations clawed back from rebel control - by brute force, negotiated ceasefire or a mixture of the two.

Speaking in Ankara, the Turkish president was quoted as saying by the AFP news agency that "We have got a little closer to Afrin".

The Turkish government often describes Kurdish-led forces in Syria as "terrorists" due to their alleged ties to the PKK - an internationally-designated terror group, who have fought an insurgency in southeastern Turkey for three decades.

Turkey launched operation Olive Branch in January 2018, and has since seized all territory along the Syria-Turkey border in northwestern parts of the country.

The Syrian government has already condemned the Turkish offensive against Afrin, rejecting Ankara's claim about having informed Damascus of the operation.

Since then, hundreds of thousands of people have been killed in the fighting and more than 10 million displaced, according to the UN.

The UN Security Council passed a resolution last month calling for a 30-day truce to allow for aid deliveries and medical evacuations from the enclave, but the ceasefire demand went unheeded.

The Turkish military said the siege of Afrin began on Monday after the military took control of "critical areas".

On Tuesday, around 150 civilians, including people with medical conditions, were evacuated from Ghouta's largest town of Douma to regime-held territory.

More than 350,000 people have died since Syria's conflict erupted in 2011.

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