President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Tuesday said Turkey has to a great extent completed its operation in the Syrian province of Idlib, saying Afrin province, controlled by Kurdish militants, will be the next target, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported.
“The operation in Idlib has been completed to a great extent. We have Afrin next on our agenda. We will not give concessions in those regions,” said Erdoğan during his party group meeting in Parliament.
Turkish troops on Oct. 13 entered Idlib as part of the Astana agreement and started establishing observation posts.
Turkey with Free Syrian Army forces took control of the Jarablus and Al Bab areas in northern Syria during an operation against Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) militants between August 2016, and March 2017.
More than 70 soldiers were lost during Operation Euphrates Shield, which was evaluated as a strategic move to prevent unification of areas controlled by the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD).
Erdoğan on Oct. 8 said Turkey would not allow a Kurdish corridor in Syria extending along the Turkish border to the Mediterranean while assessing Turkish military operations in the Idlib region of Syria.
The Turkish president on Aug. 23 said the PYD was trying to create a corridor to the Mediterranean in northern Syria, warning that Turkey would not allow this whatever the cost.
“Afrin [a Kurdish canton in northern Syria] is indeed a PYD project to reach the Mediterranean Sea. We will not permit a terror corridor in northern Syria having access to the Mediterranean. We will intervene whatever the cost,” said Erdoğan.
Erdoğan’s spokesman, İbrahim Kalın, also said on Oct. 6 that Turkey would not hesitate to carry out a military operation in Syria’s Afrin region, which is under the control of YPG militia, the armed branch of the PYD.
Turkey views the YPG as the Syrian extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).