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Deputy PM: Turkey will never return Afrin to Assad regime

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Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Recep Akdağ on Wednesday said Turkey will never return the Afrin region of Syria to the Bashar Al Assad regime.

The Turkish military and Free Syrian Army (FSA) fighters on Jan. 20 launched 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), and took the control of the region in March.

Speaking to Die Welt, Akdağ said Ankara has no plans to stay in Afrin, underlining that their goal is “the security of Turkey against terrorist groups like the People’s Protection Units [YPG, the armed wing of the PYD], and to soon return the region to the Syrian people.”

The United States in March said some 140,000 people have been displaced by Turkey’s cross-border offensive to seize Syria’s Afrin district from Syrian Kurdish forces, adding that Washington has concerns about the resulting humanitarian situation.

Six hundred twenty Syrian police candidates on May 10 started security duties in Afrin after completing a basic training course given by the Turkish Police Academy and special forces members.

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.

Erdoğan on Oct. 8 said Turkey would not allow a Kurdish corridor in Syria extending along the Turkish border to the Mediterranean.

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