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Syrians rally in Hasakah to protest Turkey ‘threats’ of military offensive

Syrians have rallied in the northeastern province of al-Hasakah, protesting “threats” posed to their country after Turkey announced another possible military operation in the north of the Arab state.

The demonstrations took place in the province’s capital of the same name and the city of Qamishili on Thursday, the official Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) reported.

The protesters condemned the “aggressive statements [made by Turkey] regarding the unity and territorial integrity of Syria and its people,” the agency added.

They also voiced “their solidarity with the Syrian Arab Army which is confronting terrorism and its supporters.”

The Syrian demonstrators also “expressed rejection of the illegal presence of the Turkish troops on Syrian soil,” echoing Damascus’ standpoint on the continued illegal deployment of Turkish troops on the Arab country’s soil.

On December 12, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said his country would launch “a new operation” against Syria-based US-backed Kurdish militants.

Ankara has already launched two operations in northern Syria. The first offensive dubbed "Euphrates Shield" began in August 2016 to stop the advance of Kurdish militia forces.

Then in January 2018, Turkish military forces launched another cross-border military operation inside Syria, code-named “Operation Olive Branch,” with the declared aim of eliminating militants of the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) from northern Syria, particularly the Afrin region.

In March, the operation was completed with the capture of Afrin city, with Turkey threatening to take the battle to nearby Manbij, west of the Euphrates. 

Reports on Wednesday said a convoy of Turkish military trucks had passed by the town of Islahiye in southeastern Turkey, heading in the direction of the Syrian border.

Turkey has been infuriated by US support for the YPG, which forms the backbone of the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), an anti-Damascus alliance of predominantly Kurdish militants.

Ankara has repeatedly criticized Washington for providing military support to the YPG and threatened to attack areas held by the militant group.

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