Turkey May Expand Syrian Operation to Manbij, East of Euphrates Amid YPG Worries
10:37 17.01.2018(updated 12:30 17.01.2018)
According to Turkish media reports on Tuesday, Turkey's possible offensive in Syria's northern Kurdish-controlled Afrin enclave is set to start with airstrikes on 149 targets of the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG).
The Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) has called on the international community to take action against Turkey's strikes on Afrin.
According to the PYD, Afrin "will not be alone" as all Kurdish-held areas in the north and east of Syria are ready to stand with it.
At the same time, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said that Ankara cannot limit its precautionary measures against the YPG to Syria's Afrin district, it might move to the city of Manbij, also in Aleppo province, and to the east of the Euphrates River.
"Turkey's precautions against YPG/PKK cannot be limited to only Afrin. There is also Manbij and east of the Euphrates River," Cavusoglu said Tuesday, as quoted by Anadolu news agency.
The foreign minister also reportedly said that, contrary to US promises, the cities of Manbij and Raqqa were not governed by local councils after being liberated from the Daesh terrorist group, but rather came under the control of the PYD.
"The U.S. has previously stated that the PYD/PKK was not their strategic partner, [that] in fact, they were only working together to defeat Daesh… As we can see, we have so many reasons to be skeptical, and we have enough reasons to take our own precautions," Cavusoglu stressed.
The statements come in the wake of Tuesday's report by the Vatan newspaper, saying that Turkey's possible offensive in Syria's northern Kurdish-controlled Afrin enclave will start with airstrikes on 149 targets of the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG).
Ankara Mulls Op Against Kurds in Afrin
Since January 13, Ankara has been threatening to start an operation against the Syrian Kurds in Afrin following an announcement by the US-led coalition concerning the training of a border protection force composed of the Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which mostly consists of the YPG, in northern Syria.
Turkish media reports suggested that the army shelled territory under control of the Kurdish forces in Afrin, however, no official confirmation has followed so far.
According to Col. Thomas Veale, public affairs officer of the Inherent Resolve, the US-led coalition was training the SDF to create a 30,000-strong force to maintain security along Syria's borders, prompting harsh condemnation from Damascus and Ankara.
Previously, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan threatened to eliminate the US-trained Kurdish troops from the vicinity of the Turkish southern border.
Ankara, one of the Syrian ceasefire guarantor states alongside Iran and Russia, considers the YPG linked to the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), listed as a terrorist organization in Turkey.
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