Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. File photo: Adem Altan/AFP
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Turkey’s president vowed to take the war against the YPG across all of Rojava and over the border into Iraq.
"Now we will continue this process until we entirely eliminate this corridor, including in Manbij, Ayn al-Arab, Tel Abyad, Ras al-Ayn and Qamishli," Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Monday in Ankara.
Ayn al-Arab is known to Kurds as Kobane, Tel Abyad’s Kurdish name is Gire Spi, and Ras al-Ayn is Sari Kani in Kurdish. They are located along the Syria-Turkey border within Rojava, the self-autonomous Kurdish region of northern Syria.
Ankara accuses the ruling political party in Rojava, the PYD, and the armed YPG, of being branches of the PKK, a named terror organization. The Kurdish groups deny the charge.
The YPG are a key ally of the US-led coalition in the war against ISIS on the ground in northern Syria. The United States has an outpost in Manbij.
Erdogan also hinted that Turkey could cross the border into Iraq to combat the PKK.
“We told the Iraqi government that they were trying to form another Qandil in Sinjar [Shingal]. If you do not solve it we can enter Sinjar and clean it up there,” he said, Hurriyet Daily News reported.
The PKK has its headquarters in the Qandil mountains of the Kurdistan Region. They also have a presence in Shingal, after taking part in an offensive to oust ISIS from the area.
Erdogan said that capturing Afrin was a “comma” and “God willing, a full stop will come next,” but stressed that they were not invading Syria.
“Our intention is not to invade, but to carry out operations to cleanse terrorists and eliminate terrorist threats to our country,” he said.
Turkish forces and their Syrian allies on Sunday took control of Afrin city, the largest urban centre in the western-most canton of Rojava.
Members of the Syrian militias were photographed looting Kurdish homes and shops in the city on Sunday.
Kurdish leaders have accused the Turkish forces of “ethnic cleansing” in Afrin.