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Tensions between Ankara and the Kurds escalated in July 2015 when a ceasefire between Turkey and the PKK collapsed over a series of terror attacks allegedly committed by the PKK members.

"There was a movement towards Afrin by Shiite militias which were interrupted after they were shelled", Erdogan said at a joint news conference alongside his Macedonian counterpart Gjorge Ivanov in Ankara.

The YPG said in a statement that they welcomed the arrival of the pro-government forces.

Later, President Tayyip Erdogan's spokesman warned that if pro-Syrian government forces entering the northwest Afrin region to support a Kurdish militia there will face "serious consequences" and they will be regarded as legitimate targets.

Afrin in Aleppo Province has been battered for a month by Turkish forces, who, together with allied Syrian insurgents, started a wide-scale offensive on January 20 to defeat the Kurdish People Protection Units (YPG) fighters there. Kalin added that Turkey was not in direct talks with the Syrian government, but its messages were being indirectly conveyed. "They will pay a heavy price for this".

The trigger for the renewed push by Turkish forces to take over Afrin was the United States announcement of forming border force made of Kurdish elements in Syria.

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Precisely, 65 members of Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), People's Protection Units (YPG) and Daesh terrorist organization were killed in Afrin on February 20.

Earlier, the Syrian government had warned that it would shoot down any Turkish jets that attempt to enter its territory in Afrin.

Russia's chief objectives in Syria are to bolster President Bashar al-Assad and maximize the territory he controls in order to weaken the USA and divide NATO, Skinner said. But many argue Turkey would need Russia's backing in order to avoid confronting Syrian troops along with the YPG.

Paramilitary forces aligned with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad arrived in Afrin on Tuesday.

The forces that arrived - which included combatants allied to Assad but not Syrian army troops - will deploy near the Turkish border, the YPG said. It is unclear whether the Iran-backed troops are inside the eponymous city.


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