280 dead: Turkey-backed forces capture Afrin

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Turkish-backed forces have taken full control of the center of the Syrian-Kurdish city of Afrin.

Fighters waved flags and tore down the statue of a legendary Kurdish figure after claiming the city centre on Sunday.

The two-month Turkish-led operation aimed to rid the border region of a Kurdish militia that Turkey considers a terrorist group.

Activists say 280 civilians have died, although this is denied by Ankara.

Earlier, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced that “units of the Free Syrian Army took control of the centre of Afrin this morning”.

Operations continued on Sunday to clear mines and remaining Kurdish resistance elsewhere in Afrin.”Most of the terrorists have already fled with tails between their legs,” the Turkish president said.A statement on a Whatsapp group for the Kurdish-dominated Syrian Democratic Forces called it the “first blatant violation of Kurdish people’s culture and history since the takeover of Afrin”.Mohammad al-Hamadeen, spokesman for the Turkish-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA), said they met no resistance as they entered Afrin on three fronts.”Maybe it will be cleared by the end of the day – it is empty of YPG fighters, they cleared out,” he said.However, the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Turkish and FSA fighters controlled around half of the city, with clashes continuing in some areas on Sunday morning.

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