Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Tuesday said the Turkish military would lay siege to Syria’s Afrin city center in the coming days, calling on anybody who wonders what an “Ottoman slap” is to come to Afrin, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported.
“Afrin city center will be besieged in the coming days so that the external aid coming into the city and the region can be cut,” Erdoğan said at a Justice and Development Party (AKP) parliamentary group meeting in Ankara.
Repeating his threat of an “Ottoman slap” against anyone who tries to stop the Turkish operation in Syria, Erdoğan said: “Some people ask what an Ottoman slap is… They should ask their grandfathers or their fathers who fought during World War I, in Gallipoli, Kut Al Amara or on other fronts. If they still wonder, they should come to Afrin.”
Erdoğan first mentioned the Ottoman slap on Feb. 13 in response to Lt. Gen. Paul E. Funk, the top U.S. commander in the anti-ISIS coalition, who said if Turkey hits Manbij it would face a sharp response.
“Those who say they will give a sharp response have not been hit by the Ottoman slap,” Erdoğan said.
The Turkish military and Free Syrian Army (FSA) fighters on Jan. 20 launched an incursion named Operation Olive Branch in Afrin against the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), which Turkey sees as the Syrian extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
Turkey’s foreign minister on Monday warned against any intervention by Syrian pro-government forces alongside Kurdish militias in northern Syria, saying it would not prevent Ankara from continuing its month-old offensive.
“If the regime is entering [Afrin] to oust the PKK, YPG [People’s Protection Units], there’s no problem. But if they’re entering to protect the YPG, then no one can stop us and the Turkish military,” Çavuşoğlu said during a visit to Jordan.