PKK kills 1 soldier as Erdoğan promises more operations in Afrin

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President of Turkey and Leader of the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) Recep Tayyip Erdoğan addresses to crowd during the 6th provincial congress meeting of AK Party in Tokat, Turkey on January 14, 2018. Kayhan Ozer / Anadolu Agency

The outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) killed one soldier in an attack in Hakkari province on Sunday as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan promised more operations against Kurdish militants in the Afrin region of Syria, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported.

According to the report, PKK militants attacked a military base in the province’s Çukurca district.

Hours later Erdoğan stated in Tokat province that Turkey would continue to fight terrorism on its southern border with the operation in the northern Syrian region of Afrin.

“In the coming days, God willing, we will continue with Afrin [operation] — which we first started with Operation Euphrates Shield — to purge terrorism from our southern borders,” he added.

Underlining that despite everything Turkey can cooperate with the US since both countries have common interests in the region, Erdoğan said: “We expect from our allies that they behave in accordance with the spirit of our deep-rooted relationship during this process.”

Turkish security forces on Saturday hit several Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) targets in the Afrin area of Syria following remarks made by President Erdoğan, who said Turkey would carry out a military operation in Syria’s Afrin and Manbij regions “if the terrorists do not pull out in one week.”

Turkey views the PYD as the Syrian extension of the outlawed PKK.

According to the report, Turkish artillery units hit PKK/PYD targets in Afrin’s Bosoufane, Cindirese, Deir Bellout and Rajo districts from the Reyhanli and Kırıkhan districts of Turkey’s southern Hatay province and a Turkish Armed Forces observation post in Syria’s Idlib region.

Speaking at a meeting of his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) in Elazığ province on Saturday, Erdoğan said: “In Manbij, if they break their promises, we will take the matter into our own hands until there are no terrorists left. They will see what we’ll do in about a week,” adding, “If the terrorists in Afrin don’t surrender, we will tear them down.”

On Saturday Anadolu reported that a convoy of Turkish tanks were deployed on the Syrian border in Hatay.

The Turkish military on Oct. 9 launched surveillance and reconnaissance operations in the northwestern Syrian province of İdlib as part of the multinational “Tension Reduction Control Force.”

President Erdoğan on Oct. 24 said Turkey had to a great extent completed its operation in Idlib, indicating that Afrin would be the next target.

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 Kurdish 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 Idlib.

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