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Turkey to investigate Afrin looting reports

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Ankara (AFP)

Turkey on Monday said it would investigate reports of looting by Ankara-backed forces who seized the Syrian city of Afrin a day earlier.

Turkish troops and Syrian rebels captured the city held by the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) militia on Sunday after a lightning advance on the centre, part of the cross-border operation in the Afrin region that began on January 20.

But AFP reporters in Afrin and a war monitor said the Turkish-led Syrian fighters went on a rampage after taking the city, pillaging shops and homes.

Ankara took such reports "seriously" and was "looking into those incidents very closely and necessary measures obviously will be taken", Turkish presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said. He did not give further details on what the measures could be.

"Apparently they have happened, some groups probably did not follow the orders that were given by their commanders," Kalin told CNN International in an interview.

Kalin insisted that Turkey's "main aim in the Afrin operation is and has been from the very beginning to bring safety and security to those people living in Afrin".

AFP reporters said fighters broke into shops, restaurants and houses and left with foodstuff, electronic equipment, blankets and other goods.

In its operation dubbed "Olive Branch", Ankara has targeted the YPG militia which it considers a "terrorist" offshoot of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).

The PKK has waged an insurgency against the Turkish state since 1984 and is blacklisted as a terror organisation by Ankara, the United States and the European Union.

But the YPG has been working closely with the US which has provided arms to the militia in the fight against the Islamic State extremist group in Syria.

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