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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 16 December 2018

Syria forces to enter Afrin amid deal with YPG: Kurdish official

It comes amid a Turkish offensive against Kurdish militia fighters in Afrin that began last month

Syrian Kurds mourn in the northern town of Afrin during the funeral of fighters from the People's Protection Units (YPG) and the Women's Protection Units (YPJ) on February 18, 2018. George Ourfalian / AFP
Syrian Kurds mourn in the northern town of Afrin during the funeral of fighters from the People's Protection Units (YPG) and the Women's Protection Units (YPJ) on February 18, 2018. George Ourfalian / AFP

Syrian government forces will enter the northern region of Afrin on Monday following a deal with the Kurdish-led fighters who control it, a Syrian Kurdish politician told local media on Sunday.

It comes amid a Turkish offensive against Kurdish militia fighters in Afrin that began last month.

Under the agreement struck between the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces alliance and Damascus, government troops will enter Afrin to "protect borders", Sheikho Bilo, an official from the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Unity Party (PYD), told Kurdish news site Rudaw.

The SDF alliance is dominated by fighters from the PYD's armed wing, known as the People's Protection Units (YPG). The YPG has been the US-led coalition's most important ally in the fight against ISIL in Syria.

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An attempt by Syrian government forces to protect the country's northern borders could see them come into direct conflict with the Turkish troops who are engaged in a cross-border offensive against the YPG in Afrin. Turkish forces are fighting alongside Syrian Arab fighters opposed to Damascus.

The deal between the SDF and Damascus comes after Syria's Deputy Foreign Minister Faysal Mikdad called on Kurds and Arabs in Afrin to unite against the Turkish offensive.

“Afrin is an integral party of the Syrian Arab Republic,” Mr Mikdad said on Wednesday last week, Rudaw reported.