“Those who support the terrorist organization will become a target in this battle”


Turkey has warned the US to end its support of the Kurdish militia YPG in Syria or face confrontation with a Turkish-rebel offensive.

“Those who support the terrorist organization will become a target in this battle,” Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdag said on Thursday. “The United States needs to review its solders and elements giving support to terrorists on the ground in such a way as to avoid a confrontation with Turkey.”

Turkey, supported by Free Syrian Army units, launched its attacks on the Kurdish canton of Afrin in northwest Syria almost two weeks ago. The offensive was spurred in part by reports that the US was going to create a 30,000-strong border force, half of which would come from the US-backed, YPG-led Syrian Democratic Forces. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said that Turkey would “drown” the “terror army”.

The US fostered the creation of the SDF in autumn 2015 to fight the Islamic State in northern and eastern Syria. Turkey considers the Syrian Kurdistan Democratic Union Party (PYD) and its YPG militia to be part of the Turkish Kurdish insurgency PKK, which has fought Ankara’s security forces for more than 30 years.

ieutenant General Kenneth McKenzie, joint staff director at the Pentagon, responded to reporters yesterday, “We carefully track those weapons that are provided to [the YPG], we ensure that they, to the maximum extent possible, don’t fall into the wrong hands and we’re continuing discussions with the Turks on this issue.”

McKenzie said the US and Turkey closely coordinated in the region but Washington will also ensure the safety of its troops.

The Kurdish administration for Afrin appealed to the Assad regime on Thursday, “We call on the Syrian state to carry out its sovereign obligations towards Afrin and protect its borders with Turkey from attacks of the Turkish occupier.”

Just before the launch of the offensive, the regime threatened to shoot down Turkish warplanes, but its has taken no action so far.

The director of the main hospital in Afrin said on Wednesday that it has seen 48 people killed and 86 wounded in the attacks.

“We call on the United Nations to stop the Turkish aggression,” Khalil Sabri said at a televised press conference. “The medical situation is getting worse in Afrin, and the medical supplies we have are about to run out.”

US Renews Protected Status for 6,000 Refugees But Others at Risk of Deportation

The Trump Administration has renewed Temporary Protected Status for about 6,000 Syrian refugees; however, others remain at risk of deportation.

The Department of Homeland Security said it will not accept new applicants for the TPS program, meaning any Syrian who reached the US after August 1, 2016 could be removed.

Congress created TPS in 1990 as a humanitarian program to shield foreigners from deportation if their counties have been destabilized by conflict, natural disasters, or other calamities.

However, the Trump Administration has sharply curbed the program ending TPS for almost 50,000 Haitians, 200,000 Salvadorans, and Nicaraugans.

Homeland Security officials said they will extend protections for Syrians who possess the permits through September 30, 2019. The Department did not say how many Syrians have reached the US since August 2016.

The US admitted 12,587 Syrian refugees during the 2016 Fiscal Year, but the number dropped sharply with the arrival of the Trump Administration. Admission of refugees has been blocked under Trump’s “Muslim Ban” on entry to the US for citizens from several mainly-Muslim countries.

The State Department records the admission of only two Syrians since January 1, 2018, compared to 1,318 in January 2017.

Claims: 3rd Chlorine Attack on East Ghouta Within 3 Weeks

Pro-opposition activists report another Assad regime chlorine attack on the East Ghouta area near Damascus.

Dozens of civilians were reportedly treated for breathing problems after missiles with chlorine canisters were dropped on Douma city at dawn on Thursday.

The attack would be the third chlorine assault by the regime since January 13. On Monday, 21 civilians in Douma were treated for respiratory problems, with doctors describing symptoms from the breathing of chlorine.

Pro-Assad forces have tried for months to overrun remaining opposition areas in East Ghouta, despite a Russian “de-escalation zone” agreed with rebels last summer. However, the regime has run into trouble at its Military Vehicle Management Base, site of rocketing and shelling of opposition areas, because of three waves of rebel attacks killing scores of troops, including several general and colonels.

Pro-opposition activists say pro-Assad forces were repelled in an attack on Erbin this morning.

A rocket assault before the Erbin attack:

Children in East Ghouta speak out, “Help…protect the civilians….Speak out against the atrocities and war crimes”: