Turkey's war on Kurds unsettles Syria fronts

"Now our objective is Afrin".

Last month, pro-Syrian government militias entered Afrin region to back up the YPG, but their deployment did not deter Turkey despite the possibility of a wider escalation in the war, and it continued its campaign.

"The operations in Afrin will continue until this swamp of terror is dried", Erdogan warned.

The assault on Afrin is part of Operation Olive Branch, a Turkish military offensive to oust Kurdish fighters in northwestern Syria. He said forces were just 6 km from Afrin. Erdogan asked. "We came in response to the calls on Afghanistan, Somalia and the Balkans, and now I am making the call, let s go to Syria".

Ankara has launched military incursion on January 20 against Kurdish YPG fighters in Kurdish-led autonomous Afrin and declared that the military campaign will continue until all PKK related groups are cleared from Turkey's southern borders, all the way to Iraq.

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

Senior members of the PKK-linked People's Protection Units (YPG) terror organization are fleeing Syria's Afrin, where Turkey's Operation Olive Branch is ongoing, local sources said Saturday.

The Turkish leader also stated that 3,171 YPG militants had been "neutralized" since the beginning of the operation.

The word "neutralised" is used to imply that the terrorists in question either surrendered or were killed or captured.

Speaking during a joint news conference with his Austrian counterpart, Mevlut Cavusoglu told reporters in Vienna on Thursday that Turkey wants the operation to end as fast as possible so that Afrin can "quickly embrace stability and civilians can return". "The next day we will ensure that terrorists are cleared from the east of the Euphrates (River) till the Iraqi border", Erdogan said.

The PKK, listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States, and the European Union, resumed its 30-year armed campaign against Turkey government in July 2015 after a brief reconciliation period.

  • Jon Douglas