A sign reads 'Welcome to the city of Afrin' in Kurdish and Arabic, in northwestern Syria's Aleppo province in late February 2018.
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region - Turkish troops and their Syrian allies have surrounded the city of Afrin and are ready to “enter at any moment” President Recep Tayyip Erdogan claimed on Friday, saying Manbij would be next.
“Right now, Afrin city center is surrounded," state-run Anadolu Agency quoted Erdogan as saying at the inauguration of the ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party’s Politics Academy in Ankara.
"We're in Afrin today, Manbij tomorrow," Erdogan claimed, adding they would not stop until they have reached the Iraqi border.
"We will make sure the east of the Euphrates until the Iraqi border is cleansed of every terrorist group," he said referring to the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and the People’s Protection Units (YPG).
In the meantime, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said that Ankara and Washington have reached an understanding over Manbij and the eastern side of the Euphrates in Syria.
Cavusoglu also added that Turkey and the U.S. agreed on issues about Manbij and the east of Euphrates.
He added he would meet with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on March 19.
Turkish forces and their Syrian proxies have taken control of the dam that is the major water source for Afrin and claim to have reached the boundaries of the city, state media reported.
Turkey on Thursday took control of a fifth town, now controlling five towns in the Kurdish enclave: Jandaris, Bulbul, Shera, Rajo, and Sheikh Hadid.
UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights has called on the United Nations to open a humanitarian corridor to allow the civilian population to flee.
A UN estimate has put the population of Afrin at around 323,000.
Many people have been displaced in Syria’s north-western corner. They have moved from the outer regions towards the centre, blaming Turkish bombardments and lack of basic necessities for pushing them out of their homes.
Media linked to the Kurdish YPG forces reported heavy clashes and Turkish airstrikes on multiple fronts on Friday morning, killing several civilians.
The Observatory reported 199 civilian deaths in Afrin as of Thursday.
Turkish officials have denied the deaths of civilians in the offensive that began on January 20.
Turkey launched Operation Olive Branch against the Kurdish enclave of Afrin with the stated aim of clearing “terrorists” from its borders. Ankara alleges the YPG and YPJ and the ruling PYD are branches of the PKK, a named terror organization. The Kurdish groups deny the charge.
The YPG has slammed what they describe as global silence on the military offensive. “This people will forgive, but will never forget the invaders and their crime partners.”
Last updated at 10:35 p.m.