Published: Sun, March 11, 2018
Global Media | By Garry Long

Turkish troops can enter Syria's Afrin "at any moment": Erdogan

Turkish troops can enter Syria's Afrin

Ankara considers the Syrian Kurdish fighters "terrorists" and allied with Kurdish insurgents fighting inside Turkey.

Turkey launched its offensive against the YPG on January 20 claiming that the Kurdish forces, which it argues are an offshoot of the banned Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), represent a "terrorist" threat to its southern borders.

The advances of the Turkish troops and Turkish-backed forces on the ground was backed up by airstrikes from Turkish warplanes which targeted frontline areas as well as Afrin city itself.

The town of Manbij, east of Afrin, is considered a key flashpoint in any future conflict due to the U.S. military presence in the area.

"We have besieged Afrin".

Erdogan reiterated Turkey's resolve to advance to Manbij - a region east of Afrin, where the USA has a military presence - and other Syrian Kurdish held locations east of the Euphrates river, once the offensive on the enclave is completed.

During the U.S. Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson's visit to Turkey on February 15-16, three mechanisms were established between Ankara and Washington with a view to contributing to normalizing bilateral relations and overcoming issues related to Syria, Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO) and Iraq.

Turkey has repeatedly called on the United States to stop working with the YPG.

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A Spokesperson for the Syrian Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) on Saturday downplayed Turkey's threats to expand its operations beyond Afrin in Syrian Kurdistan (Rojava).

It has been listed as a terrorist organisation by Turkey, the USA and the European Union.

"Olive Branch" initially made slow progress, but the capture on Thursday of Jandairis, a major town in the Kurdish-held enclave, has given the operation a clear shot at the central town of Afrin.

Since the beginning of the operation, the Turkish military and the Free Syrian Army have liberated 159 locations, including five town centers, 124 villages, 30 strategic areas, and one YPG/PKK base.

"To date 850 square kilometers have been taken under our control".

Erdogan noted that a total of 815 square kilometres (506 square miles) have been cleared from the terrorists so far.

"Then we will ensure security there and send our (displaced) brothers of Afrin back to their homes".

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