Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan addressing his party’s provincial congress on Saturday. Photo: Anadolu Agency
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Turkey’s president has said his country could launch a military offensive on Afrin and Manbij, northern Syria, within a week if Kurdish forces do not withdraw.
“If the terrorists in Afrin do not surrender, we will destroy it,” Recep Tayyip Erdogan declared in a blazing speech at his party’s provincial congress on Saturday, according to state-run Anadolu Agency.
Ankara conflates Kurdish groups in northern Syria, the political party PYD and the armed YPG, with the PKK, a named terror organization. Erdogan has said several times that he will not allow a “terror corridor” along Turkey’s border.
He said that he was disappointed the United States was continuing its relations with the Kurdish forces in northern Syria under the umbrella of the SDF – key coalition ally in the war against Syria.
Aldar Khalil, co-president of the executive body of the Movement for a Democratic Society (TEV-DEM), the ruling administration in Rojava, northern Syria, told Reuters this week that the Syrian conflict could be extended if Turkey tries to “stir up problems in some areas.”
Saleh Moslem, former leader of the PYD and now a foreign relations official for TEV-DEM, on Saturday warned Turkey against attacking Kurdish areas in Afrin. “The Kurdish people will rise up as a whole. It will be total warfare,” he said.
Local ANHA news reported that Turkish forces were shelling areas in Afrin on Saturday.