Erdogan announces the launch of ground operation in Syria's Afrin

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Speaking to reporters hours after Turkish armed forces launched an operation against a US-backed Kurdish militia in Syria's Afrin province, Yildirim said the military had destroyed almost all targets it identified in the region with air strikes.

Following the airstrike, the authorities of the Afrin canton told Sputnik that at least 10 Afrin residents had been injured in the attack. They are sheltering in camps at the Turkish border and rebels say they have not been allowed to go back to their homes.

A rebel commander told media around 25,000 Free Syrian Army rebels joined the Turkish military operation in northern Syria with the goal of recapturing Arab towns and villages seized by the YPG Kurdish militia nearly two years ago.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said a total of 18 civilians had been killed so far in the two-day operation.

Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim was quoted as saying that the Turkish forces aimed to create a security zone some 30 kilometres (18 miles) deep inside Syria.

The attacks follow weeks of warnings against the YPG in Syria from Erdogan and his ministers.

Earlier in the day, Turkish media reported four rockets fired from Syria had hit the Turkish southern border town of Kilis, wounding one person and causing damage to houses there.

"It is out of the question to have a direct clash between Turkey and the U.S. in the region", he added.

Operation "Olive Branch", in the Afrin region, is Turkey's second major incursion into Syria during the seven-year civil war.

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Fusion GPS is a commercial research and strategic intelligence firm based in Washington, D.C. The panel's Republican chairman, Chuck Grassley, had not agreed to the release.

Le Drian also said that France condemned indiscriminate bombing by the Syrian regime in Idlib province and asked for the immediate access of humanitarian aid to eastern Ghouta, where 400,000 citizens are in a critical situation.

The YPG is the driving force behind a coalition of north Syrian forces allied with the U.S.to battle the Islamic State group.

Afrin is controlled by US-backed Kurdish militias that Turkey describes as "terrorists".

Iran on Sunday urged an end to a Turkish military offensive in northwestern Syria and called on Ankara to play a "constructive role" in the war-torn country.

"They (the Kurdish and other USA -backed fighters) have proven their effectiveness", Mattis said. The town has since emerged as a model for USA -backed Kurdish rule of largely Arab areas.

Turkish troops first crossed into Syria after the Kurds captured Manbij in 2016, in part to prevent them from expanding westward and linking territory to Afrin. On Sunday, President Bashar Assad condemned the "brutal aggression" on Afrin but didn't repeat the threat.

A Turkey-backed Free Syrian Army fighter holds a makeshift Turkish flag as he patrols on a road near Azaz, Syria January 21, 2018.

"The continuing crisis in Afrin may boost terrorist groups again in the northern parts of Syria", Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi said according to Iran's official IRNA news agency. Video from Turkey this week showed the military moving tanks to the border.

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