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Turkey/Syria: Kilis hit by rockets from Syria Jan. 21 /update 4

Rockets from Syria hit border city of Kilis January 21; one minor injury reported

24 Jan 10:00 AM UTC
TIMEFRAME expected from 1/21/2018, 12:00 AM until 1/23/2018, 11:59 PM (Asia/Damascus). COUNTRY/REGION Afrin region, Reyhanli (Hatay province), Kilis (Kilis province)

Event

On Sunday, January 21, four rockets fired from Syria hit the Turkish city of Kilis (Kilis province), near the Syrian border. One person was slightly wounded and two houses were damaged. The Turkish authorities have carried out airstrikes in the Syrian region of Afrin in response.

Airstrikes between Syria and Turkey are likely to continue amid an ongoing Turkish military campaign in Afrin.

Context

The Turkish cross-border campaign, termed Operation Olive Branch, officially began on January 20 and targets the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPGs) - deemed by Ankara as a terrorist organization and ally of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) - in Kurdish-controlled northern Syria. Turkey seeks to establish a 30-km (20-mi) "safe zone" in the area. Damascus has warned that its air defense system would shoot down any Turkish jets carrying out attacks on Syrian territory, although it is unclear if Syrian forces have the capability to follow through on such a threat.

On January 13, news broke that the US had plans to create a new "border security force" composed of 30,000 personnel, including members of the YPGs and other allied forces, as part of its ongoing fight against Islamic State (IS); the US has denied the claims. However, Turkey immediately condemned the announcement, with Ankara stating that such a move would be tantamount to building a "terror army" that would threaten Turkey's domestic security and reiterating demands that the US withdraw its support of Kurdish forces in the region.

Advice

Individuals in the region are advised to monitor developments to the situation, adhere to all advice issued by their home governments, and avoid travel to within 10 km (6 mi) of the Turkish-Syrian border due to the high risk of terrorism and other violence related to the ongoing Turkish offensive.

Due to extremely poor security conditions, Western governments generally advise against all travel to Syria, with some banning travel to the country. Professional security advice and support should be sought prior to any travel to Syria.

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