Kurds signal move to new phase of guerrilla war on Turkish forces in Afrin

People walk in the street after Turkish forces and Free Syrian Army fighters were deployed in Afrin, Syria March 18, 2018. REUTERS/Khalil Ashawi

BEIRUT (Reuters) - The Kurdish administration of Syria’s Afrin region indicated on Sunday that Kurdish-dominated forces fighting Turkey-backed groups in the area will shift from direct confrontation to guerrilla tactics.

“Our forces are present all over Afrin’s geography. These forces will strike the positions of the Turkish enemy and its mercenaries at every opportunity,” Othman Sheikh Issa, co-chair of the Afrin executive council, said in a televised statement.

“Our forces all over Afrin will become a constant nightmare for them.”

Turkish forces and their Syrian rebel allies swept into the northwestern Syrian town of Afrin on Sunday, raising their flags in the town center and declaring full control after an eight-week campaign to drive out fighters from the Kurdish YPG militia.

Issa said Kurdish fighters had shown “unparalleled steadfastness and resistance” in the fight, but that Kurdish authorities had decided to evacuate civilians from Afrin “to avoid a worse humanitarian catastrophe”.

Reporting by Lisa Barrington; Editing by Catherine Evans