Turkish Deputy PM: Syria’s Afrin should be cleared of terrorists

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A tank fires on Daesh targets as the Free Syrian Army (FSA) fighters with Turkish Land Forces support launch operation to liberate Al-Bab al-Bab town of Aleppo during the 171th day of the "Operation Euphrates Shield" in Aleppo, Syria on February 10, 2017. Muhammed Nour / Anadolu Agency

Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Veysi Kaynak on Wednesday said the Afrin region of Syria should be cleared of terrorists, saying it is necessary for the security of Azaz, Mare, Al Bab and Idlib, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported.

“The problem in the region is Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) and Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) control over Afrin and the establishment of a Russian base there,” Kaynak told the media in Kahramanmaraş.

Kaynak said the Turkish military had retaliated with artillery fire on Afrin overnight after terrorists fired on the border provinces of Hatay and Kilis.

“As AFAD [Disaster and Emergency Management Agency], we have been establishing a gendarmerie base on Akil Hill, one of the highest points in Al Bab,” said Kaynak, adding that the base would be used for the general security of the region.

“For both the border security of Turkey and the general security of the region, Afrin needs to be cleared of terrorism and terrorists. Otherwise, neither the security of Azaz nor the security of Mare, Al Bab and Idlib can be guarantied.” added the deputy prime minister.

In a bid to clear Turkey’s border of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and stop the PYD from merging its Kobane and Afrin cantons, Turkey along with Free Syrian Army (FSA) troops took control of a 2,015-square-kilometer area after launching Operation Euphrates Shield in August of last year.

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