Erdogan: Turkish Army Will Encirle Afrin, Speed Up Operation

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu warned Damascus against supporting the Kurds, while the country’s Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdag said that if Syrian forces entered Afrin, this would lead to a catastrophe.
“Turkish forces will encircle Afrin’s center in the upcoming days. Thus, we will cut out any external help, so that nobody could strike a secret bargain. We will show those, who want to create a terrorist corridor on Turkey southern border, that it’s not an easy task,” Erdogan said at a meeting with lawmakers of the ruling Justice and Development Party.
Prior to Erdogan’s speech, his spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said that media reports about the Syrian pro-government troops’ entry in Afrin district were “black propaganda”, but “secret bargaining” on this issue couldn’t be ruled out.
Turkey has been conducting the “Olive Branch” in Syria’s Afrin since January 20, aiming at targeting the Kurdish YPG, allegedly affiliated with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which Ankara regards as a terrorist organization. Damascus has firmly condemned Turkey’s military campaign, calling it a violation of the country’s sovereignty.
According to the latest summary statement of the Turkish General Staff, issued earlier in the day, Turkish troops have killed and captured 1,715 militants of the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), the Democratic Union Party (PYD), and Daesh.
“Since the start of Operation Olive Branch, a total of 1,715 members of PYD, YPG and IS terrorist organizations have been neutralized,” the statement read.
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