Hundreds of Afrin residents in Syria’s north gathered on Azadi square, celebrating the arrival of pro-Damascus forces coming to fight alongside Kurdish groups in defense of the region.

 The Syrian flag and photos of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad were raised for the first time here in years in a sign of unity in the face of Turkey’s over a month-long offensive there.

Turkey - together with the Syrian opposition Free Syrian Army (FSA) rebel group - last month launched an air-and-ground operation into Afrin in the northwest of Syria to vanquish the US-backed Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) fighters near its border.

The government was asked for military help by a Kurdish militia that has been trying to repel an offensive by Turkish troops and allied Syrian rebels.