Ankara (AFP) – Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Friday mentioned Turkish forces and allied rebels might enter the centre of the Kurdish-held Syrian city of Afrin “at any second”, a day after capturing one other strategic city.
The feedback mirrored Turkey’s rising confidence of urgent its operation towards Kurdish militia within the Afrin area of northern Syria to a profitable conclusion after seven weeks of combating.
“Now our goal is Afrin… As of now, we now have Afrin encircled. We are able to enter Afrin at any second, God prepared,” Erdogan instructed his ruling AKP get together in Ankara, a day after Turkish forces took management of the city of Jandairis west of Afrin.
“The operations in Afrin will proceed till this swamp of terror is dried,” he warned.
Ankara on January 20 launched operation “Olive Department” within the Afrin area of northern Syria towards the Kurdish Folks’s Safety Items (YPG) militia, who management the world however Turkey regards as a terror group.
Regardless of encountering fierce resistance — which has induced the dying of 42 Turkish troops — Turkey’s army and its Syrian allies seem to have gained new momentum within the final weeks.
The seize of Jandairis — one of many key centres within the area aside from Afrin itself — was seen by analysts as giving Ankara a transparent path in direction of its primary goal.
Turkish state media mentioned Turkey’s advance continued on Friday, with the forces now on the sting of the Afrin municipal district.
It mentioned that they had additionally taken management of the Afrin Dam — often known as the 17 April Dam — which shops water and gives some hydroelectric energy.
Graphics revealed by state media present that the Turkish forces are looking for to encircle Afrin in a two-pronged pincer motion from the northeast and southwest, although they’ve but to totally encompass it.
– ‘Immediately Afrin, tomorrow Manbij’ –
The operation has ratcheted up tensions with the USA, pitting Turkey’s military towards a militia drive allied with its fellow NATO member within the battle towards Islamic State (IS) jihadists.
Erdogan additionally reaffirmed his earlier vows that Turkey wouldn’t restrict itself to clearing the Afrin area of the YPG, saying it wished to hold on to the city of Manbij to the east after which to the Iraqi border.
“Immediately we’re in Afrin and tomorrow we can be in Manbij. And the subsequent day we are going to be certain that terrorists are cleared east of the Euphrates River as much as the Iraqi border,” he mentioned.
Manbij is thought to be a very delicate problem as the USA — not like in Afrin — has a presence there, elevating the prospect of a direct conflict with Turkey.
On a go to to Ankara final month, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson mentioned that Turkey and the US needed to remedy the tensions surrounding Manbij as a “precedence”.
Turkey sees the YPG because the Syrian department of the outlawed Kurdistan Employees Social gathering (PKK) which has battled the Turkish state in an over three decade lengthy insurgency. The USA and the European Union see the PKK as a terror group however don’t label the YPG with the time period.