Turkish FM: Afrin operation to be completed by May

Casey Dawson
March 11, 2018

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan repeatedly vows to "clean the region from this trouble completely", signaling that the offensive against PKK and the affiliated group will not remain merely with the operation in Afrin.

"Now our objective is Afrin".

Meanwhile, the NTV broadcaster reported that the Turkish Armed Forces had entered the central districts of Afrin together with the Free Syrian Army.

Speaking to supporters in the city of Mersin, Erdogan said the Turkish army and allied Syrian rebels wanted to oust the YPG from all the towns they control close to the Turkish border.

"Right now, Afrin city centre is surrounded".

According to Anadolu Agency correspondents on the ground, the three villages of Babak Ushagi, Qorta, and Qasha in Bulbul, northwestern Afrin were cleared of terrorists by the ongoing Operation Olive Branch. "Today, there were also clashes around Bulbul, where they announced around 30 days ago that they captured, occupied it".

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The military also said only terror targets are being destroyed and that "utmost care" is being taken to avoid harming civilians. Ankara claimed that its military campaign was aimed at pushing the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group from Turkey's border with Syria and stopping the advance of Kurdish militia, who were themselves fighting Daesh.

Manbij, the next main YPG-held town east of Afrin, is a particular flashpoint as it has an American military presence there.

Turkey has battled a decades-old insurgency in its mainly Kurdish southeast and sees the Syrian Kurdish group a growing power on its southern border threatening Turkish security.

Turkey's foreign minister said Thursday Turkish forces would complete the Afrin offensive by May and would carry out a joint operation against the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) militants in Iraq with Baghdad.

Turkey has repeatedly called on the United States to stop working with the YPG.

The YPG is regarded by Turkey as the Syrian affiliate of the PKK, listed as a terrorist organisation by Turkey, the USA and European Union.

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