Italian authorities have imposed a ban on protests in central Rome as the Eternal City braces for the visit of Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Erdogan arrived in the Italian capital on Sunday (4 February) and will meet the Pope on Monday. It is the first such visit by a Turkish leader for 59 years.

According to Agence France-Presse, 3,500 police have been deployed to ensure the visit passes off without incident. Feelings are running high following Ankara's military assault on the Kurdish-majority provinces of Afrin in north-west Syria just over the Turkish border.

Last month, Turkey launched Operation Olive Branch against the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) militia, which it sees as a terror group and a threat to Turkish territory.

The operation is aimed at ousting YPG forces from its border stronghold of Afrin but the Syrian rebel forces and the Turkish army have met strong resistance.

Ankara's position is made more delicate by the fact that the YPG is allied to the US in its battle against Islamic State group jihadists and that one of Italy's Kurdish associations has strongly opposed the Turkish operation.

"In Afrin, a new crime against humanity is under way," the Kurdish association, which will stage a sit-in protest not far from the Vatican, said.

Erdogan, a devout Muslim, met Pope Francis on a papal visit to Turkey in November 2014. The pontiff acknowledged a dangerous stereotype stigmatising Muslims was gaining ground.

In Italy, the Turkish president will also meet his counterpart, Sergio Mattarella, and Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni. Erdogan is expected to use the meetings to champions Turkey's desire to become a fully fledged member of the European Union, as well as to discuss how to tackle illegal immigration across the Mediterranean.

AFP reported that in a newspaper interview on Sunday the Turkish leader did not rule out joint Italian-Turkish action in Libya.