Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu on Saturday said Turkey is running three Syrian cities, Cumhuriyet reported.
“There are district governors, police chiefs and gendarmerie commanders in [the Syrian cities of] Azaz, Jarablus and Mare,” Soylu said during a local Justice and Development Party (AKP) congress in the Merkezefendi district of Denizli province.
Turkey with Free Syrian Army (SCF) forces took control of the Jarablus and Al Bab areas of 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).
Accusing the US of supporting a terrorist organization in Syria, Soylu said: “They [US] protect the PYD and [the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party] PKK. They have paved the way for chaos in the region by sending 5,000 truckloads of weapons.”
Turkey on Jan. 20 launched Operation Olive Branch in Syria’s Afrin region, which is controlled by the PYD.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu on Saturday called on the United States to withdraw personnel from the Kurdish-held town of Manbij in northern Syria, amid tension that escalated between Ankara and Washington following Turkey’s operation Afrin.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Friday reacted to calls from the US to wrap up an operation in Afrin, defying Washington and saying that Manbij would be the next target.
Manbij is controlled by the Kurdish-led, US-backed PYD, which Turkey sees as the Syrian extension of the outlawed PKK.
President Erdoğan on Oct. 8 said Turkey would not allow a Kurdish corridor in Syria extending along the Turkish border to the Mediterranean.