Erdogan Moves Against Pentagon’s Kurd Allies, Deflating Plans For 30,000 Man Border Protection Force

[SEE: US Announces Plans For 30,000 Man Terrorist Army In N. Syria, Turkey Declares Intention To Destroy Same Force]

Tillerson to media: “That entire situation has been mis-portrayed, mis-described, some people misspoke. We are not creating a Border Security Force at all.”

Pentagon spokesman Adrian Rankine-Galloway says of the 8,000-10,000 YPG militiamen in Afrin: “We don’t consider them as part of our ‘Defeat ISIS’ operations, which is what we are doing there and we do not support them. We are not involved with them at all.”

How US went from supporting Syrian Kurds, to backing Turkey against them – in just 9 days

How US went from supporting Syrian Kurds, to backing Turkey against them – in just 9 days
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has been left flailing as Washington desperately struggles to avoid being shut out of Syria by its own allies – following a crisis it helped provoke just days ago.

For all the backpedaling and reframing the US officials are now doing, the chronology of the volte-face from Afrin to Ankara is startlingly straightforward.

READ MORE: ‘No stepping back’ from Afrin campaign: Turkish Army takes offensive to Azaz district

January 13

US announces a 30,000-strong Kurdish YPG-led Border Security Force (BSF) to stave off a Islamic State “resurgence,” operating out of the quarter of Syria’s territory that the Kurdish minority now controls.

January 15

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan calls BSF an “army of terror” and promises to “strangle it before it is born,” saying it will imminently invade the north-western enclave of Afrin. Ankara says the US did not consult it over BSF, and insists Washington broke its promise to no longer arm YPG, whom Turkey views as separatist terrorists.

January 17

Tillerson to media: “That entire situation has been mis-portrayed, mis-described, some people misspoke. We are not creating a Border Security Force at all.”

READ MORE: US backtracks on ‘Kurdish border force’, Turkey cites record of broken promises

Meanwhile, Pentagon spokesman Adrian Rankine-Galloway says of the 8,000-10,000 YPG militiamen in Afrin: “We don’t consider them as part of our ‘Defeat ISIS’ operations, which is what we are doing there and we do not support them. We are not involved with them at all.”

January 20

Turkey attacks Afrin. If there wasn’t enough disingenuousness here already, the airstrike-backed ground attack is called Operation Olive Branch. Turkey says that it will create a 30-km deep “security zone” inside the Syrian border, and announces plans to push the offensive further east.

January 21

“Turkey is a NATO ally. It’s the only NATO country with an active insurgency inside its borders. And Turkey has legitimate security concerns,” says US Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis. “We’ll sort this out.”

January 22

Tillerson to Turkey: “Let us see if we can work with you to create the kind of security zone you might need.” The kind of security zone that will operate on the same territory as the BSF? That force that was purportedly essential to the ‘Defeat Isis’ operations? Never mind all that.

Now, Tillerson deserves some sympathy. If Al-Qaeda turned into ISIS the last time US forces abandoned the region, what will ISIS turn into? Turkish and Kurdish tensions also predate the conflict, and it’s not Washington’s fault that Ankara is its NATO ally, while YPG provided America’s most motivated force against ISIS. All in all, Washington is now trying to make the best of a bad hand.

But the entire episode is emblematic of the incoherent and doomed-to-fail strategy the US has pursued in Syria for the past seven years. What did the US think was going to happen after its BSF announcement? Like the teenager who unexpectedly comes home with a tattoo, it didn’t tell Ankara in advance because it must have realized what the reaction would be, or perhaps underestimated Erdogan’s fury – yet again – before trotting out a series of implausible denials.

The bigger problem is that Washington supports actors who have few aims in common beyond their mission to destroy Islamic State – which for most of them is no longer a priority, and for some never was. And apart from a by-now almost mythical 2011 pro-democracy movement, none of them share American aims anyway.

In fact, most are probably questioning why the US is even there. For Syrians, this is their own conflict, Turkey borders it, Kurds have long coveted their own state, even Russia is here at the official behest of Assad. America’s desire to pin its colors to Kurds or Turkey or anyone else in Syria shows that is raring to remain a part of the post-conflict stage, but everyone else has either greater motivation, more legitimacy, or both. So at its current level of engagement – where it can’t even back its horses for a week – Washington is probably best-off helping quietly, and not lighting matches and then inching away in embarrassment while others wage real wars.

Igor Ogorodnev for RT

Advertisements

Another Bloody American Century

Another Bloody American Century

by

The Violent American Century: War and Terror since World War II by John W. Dower (Chicago: Haymarket Books, 2017; 184 pages)Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) was livid. “In the dead of night,” the California Democrat wrote on Twitter in July, House Speaker Paul Ryan did something “underhanded and undemocratic.” He stripped out her bipartisan amendment to repeal the 2001 Authorization to Use Military Force against al-Qaeda from the Defense Appropriations bill. Congress passed the AUMF three days after 9/11 to give the president the authority to go after al-Qaeda, which had attacked America on that crystal-clear morning in September. There was only one member of Congress to cast a lonely vote against the resolution: Barbara Lee.In what can only be described as prophetic, Lee warned at the time of the AUMF vote that “we must be careful not to embark on an open-ended war with neither an exit strategy nor a focused target.” She likened the authorization to the Gulf of Tonkin resolution that got America bogged down in Vietnam. But she wasn’t worried only about a new war’s impact on the United States and its military. “If we rush to launch a counterattack,” she said, “we run too great a risk that women, children, and other noncombatants will be caught in the crossfire.” Lee closed her speech with a line that should haunt the consciences of all Americans: “As we act, let us not become the evil that we deplore.”

In the past 16 years, the AUMF has allowed the unleashing of America’s signature high-tech violence across the Greater Middle East, with no end in sight. Since 9/11, the United States has bombed at least seven countries: Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Pakistan, Somalia, Libya, and Syria. Each and every time George W. Bush or Barack Obama authorized the use of force in another country outside of the 2003 invasion of Iraq, they claimed the AUMF as their authority, even though one of the targets of its strikes, the Islamic State, couldn’t have attacked America on 9/11, since the group didn’t exist then.

While events have proven Lee correct, she was too kind to her fellow Americans and their representatives in Congress. Americans have always engaged in the evil they say they deplore. As Pulitzer Prize-winning historian John W. Dower documents in his terse volume The Violent American Century: War and Terror since World War II, the American capacity for bloodletting is bottomless and its appetite for destruction insatiable.

Dower’s slim volume takes aim at the notion that we should take heart from the indication that human violence is on the decline since World War II. The most influential of the “declinists,” as Dower calls them, is Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker. In his 2011 book, The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined, Pinker goes as far as to call the Cold War “the Long Peace” and the years after the Berlin War fell down “the New Peace.” Dower will have none of that. “This so-called postwar peace was, and still is, saturated in blood and wracked with suffering,” he writes.

But what really rankles Dower is the conventional wisdom behind why the world has experienced such “peace” since the end of World War II: the absence of war between great powers, principally the United States and the Soviet Union. Dower’s irritation stems from two related reasons. In America, the belief remains solid that the world didn’t end in a thermonuclear ball of fire because of the “wisdom, virtue, and firepower of U.S. ‘peacekeeping.’’’ And such belief, writes Dower, “obscures the degree to which the United States bears responsibility for contributing to, rather than impeding, militarization and mayhem after 1945.”

The rest of the Dower’s book is a concise history of how a nation that emerged from World War II largely unscathed became “essentially bipolar — hubristic and overwhelmingly powerful by all material measures, yet fearful and insecure.” Military planners, according to Dower, exploited this paradox as a way to ensure the national-security state became a permanent fixture in American life while convincing the general population that empire equaled safety. There’s nothing really new here in Dower’s postwar history that leftists such as Noam Chomsky, conservatives such as Andrew Bacevich, and libertarians such as Robert Higgs haven’t explored in greater detail. But the value of Dower’s book is its length — it’s a perfect introduction to the dark heart of American foreign and military policy since 1945 — and what he chooses to emphasize, namely the imperial mindset that pursues U.S. hegemony at the risk of wiping out humanity.

With nuclear diplomacy now in the hands of the Trump administration, Dower offers a necessary reminder that U.S. nuclear policy almost destroyed the world more than once and continues to fuel nuclear-arms races across the world. During the mid 1980s, the nuclear stockpile of warheads between the United States and the Soviet Union exceeded 60,000, more than enough to wipe out humanity multiple times over. As the American nuclear strategist Albert Wohlstetter wrote in 1959, the United States and the Soviet Union were locked in a “delicate balance of terror.” Three years later, that balance was almost upended as the nuclear enemies almost pushed their respective buttons over the Cuban Missile Crisis.

And the close calls didn’t end there, Dower reminds us. It’s nothing sort of a miracle that an accident or human mistake didn’t end in nuclear oblivion. “In a jittery world of massive-retaliation groupthink,” writes Dower, “major alarms about a possible Soviet attack were triggered by a flock of birds, sunlight reflected off clouds, the rising moon, a training tape mistakenly inserted in the warning system, and a faulty computer chip costing forty-six cents.”

In behavior that can only be described as shocking the conscience, American nuclear planners after the close call in Cuba wanted adversaries to believe U.S. leaders were crazy enough to use nuclear weapons tactically. In October 1969, the Nixon White House developed a short-lived plan named Operation Duck Hook, whereby Washington would lead Hanoi to believe the unbelievable — that Richard Nixon would nuke North Vietnam to end the war. “They’ll believe any threat of force that Nixon makes because it’s Nixon…. I call it the Madman Theory, Bob,” one of Nixon’s top cronies, H.R. Haldeman, recalled the president telling him. “I want the North Vietnamese to believe I’ve reached the point where I might do anything to stop the war.”

Such irresponsibility in strategy led some of the nuclear priesthood to confess their sins and renounce their immoral beliefs and actions. Dower focuses on two men, Gen. Lee Butler, the last commander of Strategic Air Command, and William Perry, the secretary of Defense under George H.W. Bush. Both of them looked back on their careers with regret. Butler noted how the nuclear doctrine of mutually assured destruction evolved into the use of nuclear weapons as conventional weapons, including nuclear land and sea mines as well as “warheads on artillery shells that could be launched from jeeps.”

Perry, similarly, looked back on the conception of nukes as conventional weapons in dismay, “as though they were simply organic evolutions of prenuclear arms,” and decried it as “extraordinarily reckless.” According to Perry, “We acted as if the world had not changed with the emergence of the nuclear age, the age in which the world had changed as never before.” Butler, for his part, wrote that “mankind escaped the Cold War without a nuclear holocaust by some combination of diplomatic skill, blind luck and divine intervention, probably the latter in great proportion.”

Unfortunately, nuclear planners haven’t learned the lessons of Butler and Perry. In the unending irony of Obama’s presidency, the commander in chief who was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize, mainly for his work on nuclear disarmament, committed an estimated $1 trillion over the next 30 years to modernize America’s nuclear capability. As Dower wisely observes, “The ceaseless U.S. quest to maintain massive ‘technological asymmetry’ militarily is guaranteed to keep arms races of every sort going.” Washington continues to pursue this course, even though the risk of nuclear war has only increased as more countries join the nuclear club, which now stands at nine, and the bellicose rhetoric between Pyongyang and Washington intensifies.

It’s partly because of continued American interventionism and aggression, especially under the 2001 AUMF, that nuclear proliferation continues. One of the lessons that North Korea learned from the Iraq War and America’s intervention in Libya was that nuclear warheads are the only defense against U.S.-led efforts at regime change. The Libya case study is the most instructive: dictator Muammar Qaddafi gave up his nuclear weapons program in 2003 and ended up sodomized by a stick and with a bullet through his head after U.S. bombing helped rebels overthrow his regime in 2011. As one North Korean official put it before the U.S.-NATO bombing of Libya began, “It is now being fully exposed before the world that Libya’s ‘nuclear dismantlement,’ much touted by the U.S. in the past, turned out to be a mode of aggression, a way of coaxing the victim with sweet words to disarm itself and then to swallow it up by force.”

No one in the U.S. national-security apparatus, or among the populace, should be surprised that Kim Jong-un is intent on perfecting an intercontinental ballistic missile that could threaten the United States with a nuclear warhead. He made the only rational move to protect his dictatorship from U.S.-led regime change. Or as Donald Trump said, correctly, Kim is “a pretty smart cookie.”

In a world suddenly concerned about nuclear catastrophe, Dower’s emphasis on America’s responsibility for nuclear proliferation and recklessness feels prescient and worth remembering. And for all the data marshalled by the declinists to show a decrease in global violence — no matter how often that bloodshed can be traced back to U.S. shores since the end of World War II — it takes only one frenzied decision to trigger the extinction of the species. So as we watch helplessly on cable news as one megalomaniac stares down another, Dower wants Americans to know this: This is an existential nightmare of our own making.

UAE Leader Boasts of Advancing Human Rights In Middle East Despite Record of Militant Sponsorship

[UAE officials under investigation for torture]

UAE strategy will advance human rights in Middle East, Gargash tells UN council

Country’s progressive policies have been a ‘powerful antidote’ to pernicious forces in the region

UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Dr Anwar Gargash presented a report on the UAE’s progress at the UN Human Rights Council’s periodic review in Geneva on January 22, 2018. Giuseppe Cacace / AFP

Advancing human rights is a critical factor in ensuring stable societies and promoting development, Dr Anwar Gargash told the third UN Human Rights Council periodic review in Geneva on Monday.

The Minister of State for Foreign Affairs said that as a model nation for youth in the region, the UAE had sought to strengthen human rights and legal safeguards within the review framework overseen by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

The report on the third cycle of the universal review will be completed tomorrow.

Dr Gargash said the mechanism had played a helpful role in developing new laws and regulatory practices.

In the context of a region where extremism creates division and polarisation, Mr Gargash said advancing human rights was a “powerful antidote” to pernicious forces.

“The promotion of tolerance and the rejection of extremism is fundamental to the advancement of human rights in the UAE and the wider region,” he told a packed chamber at the Palais des Nations.

“Piece by piece, we have developed a comprehensive strategy to advance the cause of human rights in the UAE.”

The UAE will establish a national human rights institution in line with the Paris Principles and guidance of the reporting process before the end of the year, he said.

In responses to contributions from the floor, Dr Gargash said the country would also study joining additional protocols and extending invitations to special rapporteurs.

Other members of the UAE delegation gave information on labour issues and violence against women.

In response to allegations based on reporting about pre-trial detention, Dr Gargash said there was no detention without an arrest warrant.

“The UAE does not detain or arrest any person arbitrarily,” he said. “Any person who is arrested is dealt with in line with legal proceedings in the UAE. The person is dealt with in line with the law.

“The UAE is a bastion of stability where people from about 200 nationalities live peacefully in social and religious harmony. We are committed to finding the right balance between protecting our legitimate need for security and preserving our reputation as an open society.”

Since the second review was completed in 2013, the federal Government has made significant progress in tackling human trafficking issues, raising labour and workforce rights and in the area of female empowerment. In all, the Government has adopted, in whole or in part, 107 recommendations.

“The empowerment of women is key to the promotion of human rights, in the UAE and across the region,” Dr Gargash said.

He also pointed to the UAE’s role as the world’s largest donor of official development assistance as a proportion of its national income.

Humanitarian challenges cannot be resolved outside the context of politics and for that reason a resolution of crisis conditions in Syria, Yemen and Libya was imperative.

Alarmed by recent statements on the status of Jerusalem, Dr Gargash urged progress on establishment of an independent Palestinian state.

The formal UAE submission said the country’s Vision 2021 establishes six national priority objectives for the Government that guide improvements in human rights.

“These include a cohesive society that preserves its identity, a safe society and a fair judiciary, a competitive knowledge-based economy, a first-rate education system, and a sustainable environment and integrated infrastructure,” it said.

Among other highlights was the “Wadeema” Act of 2016 granting children the right to life, survival and development.

“The Act also offers safeguards children from all forms of neglect, exploitation and ill-treatment, as well as all forms of physical violence and psychological abuse,” the report said.

There was rapid progress on the inclusion of women on the governing boards of all Government bodies, institutions and companies.

“There were nine female members of the Federal National Council during its 16th legislative session, constituting 22.5 per cent of the Council,” the report said.

“Emirati women comprise 43 per cent of the workforce and hold 66 per cent of government sector positions, including 30 per cent of senior decision-making posts. They also hold 15 per cent of professional posts,” the national report said.

In its submission, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights recognised considerable developments in the UAE in the past four years.

“UAE’s efforts in combating trafficking are marked as a good example,” the office said. “This included the Adoption of Federal Act Law No 1 of 2015, which provides protection for victims of trafficking, and the 2012 and 2015 Amendments of Federal Law No 51 of 2006 on combating trafficking.”

It also hailed the progress in raising the status of women.

“The National Strategy for Empowerment of Emirati Women in the UAE for 2015-2021 … provides a framework for government, private sector and civil society organisations to establish work plans to increase women’s presence and empowerment mainly in the economic sector in the UAE.”

Body Autopsied By Las Vegas Med. Examiner NOT Steven Paddock…Now Cremated

[Stephen Paddock’s brother Eric is furious at the coroner’s decision to cremate, not deliver, alleged shooter’s body]

Body autopsied by doctor likely not Steven Paddock’s, official LVMPD report reveals

Upon further investigation, Intellihub has determined that the body autopsied by a doctor in early October was likely not the body of the alleged gunman Stephen Paddock

LAS VEGAS (INTELLIHUB) — Information listed in the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department’s preliminary report on the 1 Oct. massacre, reveals that the body autopsied by Dr. Lisa Gavin may not be Steven Paddock at all.

According to Section VIII of the report titled Suspect Autopsy: “On 10-06-17, at approximately 1625 hours,under CCOCME case 17-10064 and FBI incident number 4-LV-2215061 an autopsy was performed on the body of Paddock at the CCOCME
by Doctor Lisa Gavin.”

However, the report lists the decedent Stephen Paddock as being only “73 inches” tall (6′-1″) despite the fact that it is well know Paddock was 6′-4″ in height and had a much larger frame than the dead guy pictured in the leaked crime scene photographs.

LVMPD

In 2010, Paddock’s height was listed as 6′-4″ on a Sport Fishing, Trapping, Hunting License registered with the State of Alaska. The information was verified with Paddock’s California driver’s license by a duly authorized fish and game vendor in the State of Alaska.

Additionally, the eye color listed on the official state document says Paddock’s eyes were “BL” (blue), while the autopsy report says the decedent’s eyes are “brown.” Again, the document is based off of Paddock’s California driver’s license.

Moreover, as Intellihub reported on Wednesday, Stephen Paddock was not the man pictured in the leaked crime scene photos.

Why are officials lying to the general public?

Why did the coroner order the body autopsied to be cremated?

#LasVegasShooting

#DemandAnswersFromLVMPDandFBI

US/Russian Forces Open the Door In N. Syria To Turkish Bombers

[SEE: Turkey Begins Invasion of N. Syria, Bombs Kurds On Syrian Airbased Used By Both US and Russia]

NEWS ANALYSIS: Syria’s Afrin becoming less significant for Russia, US

Serkan Demirtaş – BAGHDAD

 

Turkey’s long-expected military operation into Afrin has not created much opposition from the international community, especially from big powers, senior diplomatic sources have said, drawing on the fact that both Russia and the U.S. have long ago abandoned their mandate in that particular region.

According to assessments by diplomatic sources, Turkey’s operation was not regarded as shocking news by the big international powers for three main reasons.

First, Turkey had made it clear that an operation into Afrin was in the pipeline after the completion of the Euphrates Shield Operation and even before the start of the Idlib operation in mid-2017. Senior Turkish officials, particularly President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, have long been voicing Turkey’s plans to provide security to its borders in the Afrin region. Therefore, this offensive has already been anticipated by the international community, particularly the big powers.

Second, Turkey has been in constant dialogue with all the big powers over the last few weeks in order to inform them and ask their political and practical support for the operation. Chief of General Staff Gen. Hulusi Akar and National Intelligence Organization head Hakan Fidan’s visit to Moscow played a crucial role in making this operation possible. Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu’s in-person meetings with U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis last week in Vancouver sought to garner Washington’s support for the TSK’s operation.

These talks resulted in the opening of the Syrian air space for the Turkish air forces as well as the removal of Russian military observers from Afrin thanks to coordination provided between Ankara and Moscow. From the U.S. perspective, American military officials made it clear that Afrin was not part of their mandate and thus signaled a crucial green light to the Turkish offensive.

Third point is the fact that the Afrin region no longer plays a significant and strategic role in both Russian and American perspectives and priorities in the Syrian theater. In a sense, both powers have abandoned the region to Turkey’s domain given the presumption that this operation would preoccupy Turkey for more than six months.

For Russia, it is important that the Turkish operation does not endanger efforts to reach a political settlement through the Sochi process. And for the U.S., greater concerns would be raised if the TSK’s military planning included an operation into Manbij and east of Euphrates, areas under the U.S. mandate in the fight against the jihadists.

Two risks cited

According to the same sources, the ongoing operation carries two main risks.The first concerns unwanted military and civilian casualties as the YPG uses locals as human shields, particularly in and around the Afrin region.

The second is that the Syrian regime may advance its military operations in the northern parts of Idlib in retaliation to the TSK’s Afrin move.

Syria had recently launched a massive military campaign in the Idlib region at the expense of violating a three-way agreement between Turkey, Russia and Iran, which aims to establish a de-escalation zone in this rebel-held region. Ankara’s concern is that the Syrian regime may intensify its operation in the north of the Idlib region, leading to an unwanted military engagement between Damascus and the armed opposition groups. Turkey’s troops are also in the same theater with the task of establishing military observation spots in the field, sources have said.

Turkey Begins Invasion of N. Syria, Bombs Kurds On Syrian Airbased Used By Both US and Russia

 

Turkey launches ‘Olive Branch Operation’ against ‘PKK threat in Syria’

HATAY / ANKARA / ISTANBUL

Turkey launches ‘Olive Branch Operation’ against ‘PKK threat in Syria’

Turkey has begun a land operation against the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), which it sees as a terrorist group for its links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), with troops crossing the border in cooperation with Syrian rebel groups.

“Our units have entered Afrin from two branches at 11:05 a.m. with the Free Syrian Army [FSA]. This means the land operation has begun,” Yıldırım told the editors of news outlets in a meeting in Istanbul.

The “Olive Branch Operation,” which came hours after a major air strike on the YPG on Jan. 20, will consist of four phases to create a safe zone with a depth of 30 kilometers, he added.

Turkey is also supporting the FSA advance with tanks and cross-border artillery fire.

The operation, which came hours after a major air strike on the YPG on Jan. 20, will consist of four phases to create a safe zone with a 30-kilometer depth, he said.

The first phase will be aimed at forming a secure zone on the Turkish borders between Azaz and Afrin, Yıldırım said, adding that following the first phase the “cleaning” would require an even more thorough work and “there was no need to rush.”

The Democratic Union Party (PYD) and its armed wing YPG are not the only groups in the operation area, Yıldırım claimed, pointing to the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL) militants who were allowed to leave Raqqa under U.S. watch, referring to a BBC report.

“There are around 8,000 to 10,000 terrorists in Afrin,” Yıldırım said.

“The PKK, the YPG, the PYD are all the same. Changing their names does not change fact they are terror organizations,” President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan also said at a public rally in the northwestern province of Bursa on Jan. 21.

Chief of General Staff Hulusi Akar, who commanded the air operation from the General Staff headquarters in Ankara, went to the southern border province of Hatay on Jan. 21 to inspect units taking part in the Afrin operation.

Eight F-16 fighter jets took off from the Diyarbakır 8th Main Jet Base within 20 minutes at around 12:42 p.m. local time, Doğan News Agency reported. Fighter jets also took off from Konya’s 3rd Main Jet Base. Military sources told daily Hürriyet that FSA units backed by Turkish tanks are advancing on the field and YPG militants are withdrawing to villages and towns without putting up serious resistance.

Three missile attacks hit Reyhanlı on the Syria border in Turkey’s southeast on Jan. 21, Doğan News Agency reported.

“In the recent period our borders have been exposed to harassment more than 700 times. Last night six rockets were fired into Kilis. No one has lost their lives, the location of the rockets was determined and they were destroyed,” PM Yıldırım said before the latest attack.

By the evening of Jan. 20, the military said it had struck almost all of its targets in the area, adding that the 72 fighter jets that took part in the operation had safely returned to their bases.

“Out of the 113 PYD targets, 108 have been destroyed as of 18:30 [15:30 GMT]. All the killed and wounded people, who have been sent to hospitals, are members of terrorist groups,” read the statement from the Turkish General Staff.

The next day, on Jan. 21, the Turkish General Staff said 153 targets were hit in an operation carried out “with respect for Syria’s territorial integrity” and stemming from Turkey’s rights under international law.

The Air Forces also hit the Menagh Military Airbase in northwestern Syria, which the U.S. used for supplying weapons to the YPG.–[VIDEO: Russian forces raise their flag above major Kurdish base in north Aleppo–ED.]

The Turkish Red Crescent has built up a tent camp in Azez in the east of Afrin as a precautionary measure in advance of a possible human flow.

The Turkish military stated that the YPG is “using civilians in Afrin as a human shield,” while the National Intelligence Agency (MİT) has also reportedly confirmed that the YPG is “trying to depict the militants hit by military operations as civilians.”

“Thousands of pro-Turkey civilians have escaped the PKK/YPG-controlled areas in an attempt to reach Aleppo. Our assessment is that the PKK/YPG would like to use civilians as a human shield and blame potential civilian casualties on Turkey,” one official told the Hürriyet Daily News.