In what might be seen to be an odd move, Syrian government forces appear to be moving to push Turkish soldiers out of the north-western Afrin canton in a bid to assist the separatist Kurdish forces. The Turkish army invaded northern Syria last month to extinguish the creation of a 30,000 strong, Kurdish-dominated "border security force" backed by the US.

The Kurdish YPG (People’s Protection Units) are closely linked to Turkey’s outlawed PKK (Kurdistan Workers' Party). Following the collapse of its ceasefire with the PKK in 2015, the Turkish government claims that the PKK, and by extension the YPG, are terrorists.