The threat posed to Hatay by the PKK and its Syrian affiliates was highlighted again in January 2018, when the Turkish army and Turkish-backed forces attacked Afrin. Whether the threat was exaggerated to justify the Afrin operation is difficult to say, but once again Hatay has found itself, through no fault of its own, on the sidelines of war.
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Since the operation in Afrin began, Turkey has been quick to exploit the international concern about the Islamist group, asserting that it is fighting IS as well as the YPG in the area. Turkey’s state news agency reported that ‘the PYD/PKK terror group has released all Daesh [IS] prisoners under the condition that they will fight against the Turkish army and Free Syrian Army (FSA) in Syria’s Afrin region’.