On Monday, February 26, the Turkish army gained control over the outer edge of the Afrin region in Syria. According to Turkish state media, the Turkish military and allied Syrian rebel forces pushed back fighters from the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) from the area near the Turkish border, giving Turkish forces a "crescent" of control in Syrian territory. Turkish officials warned of a coming battle and stated that the 30-day truce on fighting in Syria, as called for by the UN Security Council, does not apply to the ongoing Turkish offensive in Afrin.
The Turkish cross-border campaign, termed "Operation Olive Branch," officially began on January 20. The operation aims to target the YPG - considered by Ankara as a terrorist organization and ally of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) - in Kurdish-controlled northern Syria. Turkish forces seek to establish a 30-km (20-mi) "safe zone" in the area.
Meanwhile, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has warned the Syrian army against supporting Kurdish militias in Afrin. A deal was reportedly reached between Turkey and Assad's major international allies in the conflict, Russia and Iran, on February 19 to prevent the intervention of the Syrian army in Afrin. However, on February 20, pro-Syrian regime forces entered the Kurdish-controlled region of Afrin in northwest Syria to assist YPG forces in halting the advance of Turkish forces.
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.