Four maps that explain the Turkish offensive in north-east Syria

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Image copyright
AFP

Turkey has launched a military operation against Kurdish-led forces in north-eastern Syria, days after US troops pulled back from the border.

These maps help explain the offensive and its potential consequences.

Majority-Kurdish areas

Kurds make up between 7% and 10% of Syria’s population. For decades, they were suppressed and denied basic rights by President Bashar al-Assad and, before him, his father Hafez.

Before the uprising against Mr Assad began in 2011 most Kurds lived in the cities of Damascus and Aleppo, and in three northern areas near the Turkish border – Afrin in the west, Kobane (Ain al-Arab) in the centre, and Qamishli in the east.

When the uprising evolved into a civil war, the main Kurdish parties avoided taking sides. In 2012, government forces withdrew from Kurdish areas to concentrate on fighting rebel factions elsewhere, and Kurdish militias took control in their wake.

Image copyright
Reuters

Image caption

The People’s Protection Units (YPG) is the biggest militia in north-east Syria

In late 2014, the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) launched an assault on Kobane.

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