The main entrance to Afrin
© AFP 2018/ George OURFALIAN
The main entrance to the city of Afrin, along Syria's northern border with Turkey
After pro-Syrian government militia joined the battle in Afrin on behalf of the Kurds, Ankara slammed the move, saying that the fighters had become Turkey's "legitimate target." Damascus has dubbed the Turkish campaign as "aggression," however, refrained from sending armed forces to the area.

Three Turkish air strikes hit Syrian government forces checkpoint on road to Afrin, killing eight fighters and wounding six, according to a source. Damascus have yet to confirm the information.

On February 22, the Syrian pro-government forces entered Afrin to support the Kurds being attacked by the Turkish army and the FSA, as part of Ankara's Olive Branch Operation launched on January 20. The residents of the city greeted the pro-Damascus forces.

In its turn Turkey stated that the fighters had become Turkey's "legitimate target."

Earlier, Behchet Ebdo, the chairman of the Afrin Canton Council said that 48 pro-Syrian government troops have been killed amid clashes with the Turkish military and the Free Syrian Army opposition group. He noted that two militiamen from the pro-government forces had been killed in the first day after their arrival in Afrin, while three had been wounded.

Most recently, according to Turkish General Staff, Turkish forces surrounded the Kurdish-held Syrian city of Afrin in the course of its Operation Olive Branch.

According to the Anadolu news agency, a total of 1,100 square kilometers of the Afrin region have been cleared of Kurdish forces during the operation.

Turkey's operation in northern Syria envisages clearing the area of the Kurdish People's Protection Units, considered by Ankara as an part of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which Turkey considers as a terrorist organization.

Damascus has firmly condemned the operation as an assault on Syria's sovereignty. Russia, in turn, has urged all the parties to exercise restraint and called for respect of Syria's territorial integrity.