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Iran Press TV

Turkey will exterminate 'terrorists' in Afrin if they do not surrender: Erdogan

Iran Press TV

Sat Jan 13, 2018 03:14PM

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says Turkey's military operation in Syria's northwestern province of Idlib will crush Kurdish militants in the border region of Afrin.

"If the terrorists in Afrin don't surrender, we will tear them down," Erdogan told a congress of his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) in the eastern city of Elazig on Saturday.

In 2016, Turkey launched its Euphrates Shield military offensive, which spans Syria's Afrin and Manbij regions, saying it sought to fight off the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group. Later, however, Ankara was apparently using the drive to push against the Kurds.

Turkey associates the Kurdish militants in Syria with the homegrown Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which has been fighting a decades-long separatist war against Ankara.

The Turkish operation, however, comes without the Syrian government's permission, prompting repeated calls by Damascus to stop the military intervention.

"With the Euphrates Shield operation we cut the terror corridor right in the middle. We hit them one night suddenly. With the Idlib operation, we are collapsing the western wing," Erdogan said, referring to Afrin.

Erdogan also said Turkey could drive the forces of the US-backed Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) out of Manbij, which lies west of the Euphrates, and Ankara has long demanded that Kurdish militants pull back to the east of the river.

"In Manbij, if they break the promises, we will take the matter in our own hands until there are no terrorists left. They will see what we'll do in about a week," Erdogan said.

The Turkish prime minister further criticized the United States for arming the YPG and Arab militants from the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

"The US sent 4,900 trucks of weapons in Syria. We know this. This is not what allies do," Erdogan said. "We know they sent 2,000 planes full of weapons."

The YPG is part of the SDF, which has been engaged in operations aimed at liberating Syria's Raqqah, where Daesh terrorists have recently left. The US considers the SDF as its main proxy force fighting on the ground in Syria.

The YPG said Saturday that Turkish forces stationed in Syria's Dar Taizaah and Qalat Seman had shelled several Kurdish villages in Afrin, but no casualties were reported.

Erdogan has said the YPG is trying to establish the "terror corridor" on Turkey's southern border, linking Afrin with a large Kurdish-controlled area to the east.

Turkey is wary of the presence of Kurdish militants close to its borders in Syria, and has been opposed to Washington's efforts to train and arm them in the Arab country. The US has promised to take back the weapons from Kurdish militants once Daesh, which the Kurds have been fighting, is routed in Syria.

Nevertheless, the Kurds remain armed in the territory they have seized while fighting Daesh even as the Takfiri terrorist group is effectively defeated in the Arab country.

Washington's military support first began under the administration of US President Donald Trump's predecessor Barack Obama.

On Wednesday, Turkey summoned the US charge d'affaires in Ankara over Washington's arming and training of Kurdish forces in Syria.

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