Turkey presses Syria offensive as rockets hit town
Hassa (Turkey): Turkish forces and their Syrian allies on Sunday pressed a cross border offensive against a Kurdish militia for a second day, as rocket fire hit a border town in apparent retaliation.
Turkey had on Saturday launched operation "Olive Branch" seeking to oust from the Afrin region of northern Syria the Peoples' Protection Units (YPG) which Ankara considers a terror group.
But the campaign risks further increasing tensions with Turkey's NATO ally the United States -- which has supported the YPG in the fight against Islamic State jihadists -- and also needs at least the tacit support of Russia to succeed.
Turkish artillery pounded YPG targets around Afrin on Sunday after the first strikes the previous day saw 72 Turkish aircraft hit a total of 108 targets inside Syria, according to the army.
Meanwhile pro-Turkey Syrian rebels who Ankara calls the Free Syrian Army (FSA) were engaged in a "comprehensive" ground operation on Afrin against the YPG, the state-run Andadolu news agency said.
Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim had raised the prospect that Turkish ground forces would also join the fight later on Sunday.An AFP correspondent on the southwestern edge of the Afrin region saw a warplane bombing the western outskirts of the area early on Sunday.
A small unit from a Turkish-backed rebel group was manning a monitoring point on a hilltop overlooking several Kurdish-controlled villages below. The operation is Turkey's second major incursion into Syria during the seven-year civil war after the August 2016- March 2017 Euphrates Shield campaign in an area to the east of Afrin against both the YPG and IS. The army emphasised that IS was also being targeted in this operation although it no longer has any major presence in the Afrin area.