Turkey hits Afrin following Erdoğan’s Syria remarks

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(Muhammed Nour / Anadolu Agency)

Turkish security forces on Saturday hit several Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) targets in the Afrin area of Syria following remarks made by Turkish President Recep Tayyip 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,” the state-run Anadolu news agency reported.

Turkey views the PYD as the Syrian extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (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 (TSK) 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.

The Turkish president on Aug. 23 had 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.

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