Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan threatened on Sunday to Afrin in Syrian Kurdistan (Rojava) as part of his government’s offensive against the U.S.-backed forces as they enter the ninth day of operations.
Erdogan said he would go to Afrin “if necessary” and urged his supporters to follow him. Erdogan spoke at a local Justice and Development Party (AKP) congress in the Amasya Province. He told his followers: “If needed, I, the top commander, would be the first one to go to Afrin. You would then follow me.”
Erdogan also reacted to Turkey’s capture of the strategic Bursaya Mountain in northern Afrin on Sunday as he said Ankara would expand its operation and “clean the entire border” all the way to Iraq.
Turkish warplanes started striking the Kurdish city of Afrin last week as ground troops entered the region as well.
The campaign named “Operation Olive Branch” is intended to clear Syria’s Kurdish-held northwest district of People’s Protection Units (YPG) fighters, regarded by Turkey as an offshoot of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
Ankara is furious with Washington’s support for the YPG and has even labeled the U.S.-backed Kurdish forces a “terrorist organization.”
For its part, the U.S., which is supporting the Kurds in the current battle against the Islamic State (IS) in Syria, has expressed its concern and has urged Turkey to limit its military offensive in the Kurdish region of Afrin.
Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu on Saturday stated that it was “mandatory” for the U.S. to “withdraw” its troops from Manbij, east of Afrin. Cavusoglu even told Washington to take “more concrete steps rather than words.”