"I hope that Afrin will, God willing, have completely fallen by the evening", Erdogan said in the speech. Various forms of forcible transfer of populations, especially of ethnic or religious groups, are considered war crimes by the International Criminal Court.
"The air strikes targeted a checkpoint on the only road leading from Afrin to regime-controlled territory to the south-east", the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
The European Union on Wednesday said it would chip in another three billion euros ($3.7 billion) for Syrian refugees in Turkey, and restrict travel for countries refusing to take back their citizens who fail to obtain asylum in Europe.
Residents and displaced families in the besieged town of Douma in the rebel-held Damascus suburbs of Eastern Ghouta were sleeping in shops and in the streets as basements in the town filled up beyond capacity, said Haitham Bakkar, a local resident. Ankara considers the YPG a terror organization linked to its own Kurdish insurgency. "We will allow civilians.to leave so they will not be hurt in case (Kurdish) fighters hold out in the villages, neighbourhoods, or buildings inside Afrin", he told AFP.
But the YPG has been a key ally of the United States in the fight against jihadists in Syria and Turkey's operation against it has raised tensions with Ankara's North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies in Washington and Europe. Assad's forces, backed by Russian Federation and Iran, say they are targeting "terrorist" groups shelling the capital.
Sealing off Afrin city would be major for Turkey's "Olive Branch" operation, launched on January 20 and aimed at ousting the YPG, a vital partner for a US-backed coalition against the Islamic State group, but seen by Ankara as "terrorists".
In Washington, the Pentagon said Russian Federation should focus on stopping Syrian President Bashar al-Assad from targeting innocent civilians.
While the United States and other imperialist powers denounce the Syrian offensive against armed groups in Ghouta as a violation of the cease fire ordered by the UN Security Council, Damascus and Moscow argue that they are fighting terrorist groups not protected by the ceasefire. The TV showed several women carrying babies and welcoming the Syrian army, claiming the rebels were preventing civilians from leaving Eastern Ghouta. The broadcaster said 25 people were evacuated.
More than 1,180 civilians have been killed since the Ghouta assault was launched.