It marked the second day of fighting after Ankara opened a new front in the nearly seven-year-old Syrian war. Under what the Turkish government has called “Operation Olive Branch”, Turkish air strikes on January 20 pounded YPG positions in Afrin. “The Olive Branch Operation is going on as planned, and the ground operation has started,” the Turkish army, NATO’s second-largest, said. Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said the operation would create a 30km “safe zone”, according to broadcaster HaberTurk. Turkey-backed Free Syrian Army rebel factions had captured a Kurdish village with no resistance and were clearing landmines, a Turkish official said. The Syrian-Kurdish YPG militia, supported by the US but seen as a terrorist organisation by Turkey, said it had repulsed the Turkish forces and their allies after fierce clashes. “All the Turkish military’s ground attacks against Afrin have been repelled so far and they have been forced to retreat,” Nouri Mahmoudi, a YPG official, said. Since the morning, the combatants have exchanged shelling and clashed along several frontlines around Afrin, he said. The Turkish military said it had hit 153 targets so far, including shelters and hideouts used by Kurdish militants. The YPG has said Turkey’s strikes killed six civilians and three of its fighters and wounded 13 civilians.