In a statement on Tuesday, Turkey’s General Staff said its forces have encircled the city center of Afrin in northwestern Syria as part of its ongoing operation against Kurdish militias. Hundreds of civilians reportedly fled the city ahead of the Turkish forces closing in.

Kurdish YPG forces

Kurdish YPG forces Photo Credit: Twitter Screenshot /Kurdistan 24 English

Turkey’s armed forces have surrounded the center of Afrin and seized other “critically important areas,” the military said in a statement on Tuesday. According to a report in Ankara’s state-run Anadolu News Agency, the Turkish General Staff announced that they have been working “to ensure civilians and nearby areas do not get harmed.”

Hundreds of civilians have apparently fled the city ahead of the Turkish forces closing in, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) reported earlier this week. The Observatory has documented the deaths of 204 civilians since Turkey and its Syrian allies launched the operation in the region on January 20. Turkey’s state media said that a total of 3,393 individuals have been “neutralized” since the start of the operation.