Turkey's Erdoğan says they will crush PKK/PYD terrorists in Afrin
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Saturday that Turkey will "rout" US-backed PKK/PYD terrorists in northern Syria in "less than a week," calling on them to surrender and criticizing Washington for supporting the groups which Ankara designates as terrorists.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Saturday that Turkey's military units in northern Syria's Idlib province would crush PKK/PYD terrorists that control the neighbouring region of Afrin.
Turkish troops entered Idlib three months ago after an agreement with Russia and Iran for the three countries to try to reduce fighting between pro-Syrian government forces and rebel fighters in the largest remaining insurgent-held part of Syria.
But the few observation posts which the Turkish army says it has established are close to the dividing line between Arab rebel-held land and the Kurdish-controlled region of Afrin.
"God willing, they will see how we rout the looters whom they gathered, supposing that they formed an army, in less than a week," Erdoğan told a meeting of his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) in the eastern province of Elazığ on Saturday.
Erdoğan was referring to two towns, Afrin and Manbij, both controlled by the US-backed main Syrian Kurdish militia YPG and affiliates such as the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).
"If the terrorists in Afrin do not surrender, we will turn that upside down too. In Manbij, we will take matters into our own hands if the promises are not kept," Erdoğan said.
Erdoğan also voiced disappointment over US weapons deliveries to the YPG.
"There is no issue left in Syria that we can resolve with those who told us nothing but lies and manipulation until today," Erdoğan added.
Erdoğan has said the Kurdish YPG militia is trying to establish a "terror corridor" on Turkey's southern border, linking Afrin with a large Kurdish-controlled area to the east.
In 2016 Turkey launched its Euphrates Shield military offensive in northern Syria to push back Daesh from the border and drive a wedge between the PKK/PYD controlled regions.
"With the Euphrates Shield operation we cut the terror corridor right in the middle. We hit them one night suddenly. With the İdlib operation, we are collapsing the western wing," Erdoğan said, referring to Afrin.
He also said Turkey could drive YPG forces out of Manbij. The mainly Arab town lies west of the Euphrates, and Turkey has long demanded that PKK/PYD terrorist pull back east of the river.
Turkey was a major supporter of rebels fighting to overthrow Syria's President Bashar al-Assad, but is alarmed by the strength of PYD forces - which Ankara says are linked to PKK fighting in southeast Turkey.
It has criticised the United States for arming YPG and Arab fighters in the Syrian Democratic Forces, which drove Daesh out of Raqqa and other parts of Syria.
"The U.S. sent 4,900 trucks of weapons in Syria. We know this. This is not what allies do," Erdoğan said. "We know they sent 2,000 planes full of weapons."
Ankara sees both the YPG and SDF as branches of the banned PKK Terrorist Organization. The US, however, is allied with the YPG in the war against the Daesh terror group.
Turkey controls about 2,000 square kilometres in northern Syria following a 2016 cross-border operation, the Euphrates Shield. The Turkish-controlled area is neighboured by Afrin to the west and Manbij to the east.