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Ankara eyes next options in Afrin offensive

Indications from Ankara and the battlefield suggest Ankara is opting for urban warfare instead of a long siege on Afrin in Syria.

If Turkey's military operation in Syria's Afrin province proceeds at its current pace, Ankara will very soon have to make its most critical decision of the drive: whether to enter the center of Afrin city and conduct urban warfare, which could shorten the offensive but risk potentially heavy political-diplomatic risks, or set up a long-term blockade.

On Feb. 3, a Turkish Leopard 2 A4 tank was hit with a 9M113 Konkurs anti-tank guided missile that killed six soldiers — five in the tank and one near it. That same day, one soldier was killed in Afrin clashes and another when the Turkish border town of Kilis was shelled, making it the deadliest day yet for the Turkish army since the operation began Jan. 20 with the support of the Free Syrian Army (FSA). Two more soldiers were killed in clashes Feb. 4 with the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG). Official statements from the Turkish General Staff said 947 YPG fighters had been killed in the operation, while 13 Turkish soldiers were killed and 57 wounded.

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