Erdogan Threatens to Extend Offense in Syria After Trump Warnings

However, Ankara's stated strategic goals for the operation codenamed Operation Olive Branch come with a great deal of bluster and little clarity.

Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim has said the operation, which involves Turkish troops accompanied by allied Syrian rebels and backed by war planes, artillery, and tanks, was aimed at creating a security zone some 30 kilometers deep inside Syria.

But Turkey considers the YPG as part of the long Kurdish insurgency for an independent Kurdistan which would include part of Turkey.

In 2016, the Kurdish-led SDF pushed Islamic State fighters out of Manbij.

They said the "aim of this (Turkish) aggression is to cut more Syrian land by occupying Afrin".

A civilian holding a Turkish flag arrives on January 22 to encourage the troops at a Turkish Army staging area in the outskirts of the village of Sugedigi, Turkey, on the border with Syria.

THE FACTS: The Islamic State group is not known to have any presence in Afrin. The YPG has been a crucial part of a USA -backed alliance effectively battling against ISIS and other jihadists in northern Syria but it has been branded as a terrorist group by the Turkish government. The campaign followed an announcement by the US-led coalition to create a thousands-strong Border Security Force with Kurdish fighters, including from the People's Protection Units (YPG) at its core.

Sinam Mohamed, chief envoy of the "Rojava self-ruled Democratic Administration" which runs several cantons in the Kurdish-majority north of Syria, said she fears for her family in Afrin.

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The remarks, from the spokesman for President Tayyip Erdogan's government, underscore the growing bilateral tensions six days after Turkey launched its air and ground operation, "Olive Branch", in Syria's northwestern Afrin region.

Both sides are hotly contesting that, however, with Turkey claiming to have only lost 2 soldiers, and to have killed over 250 Kurds. However, the Turkish government equates the YPG with the PKK and treats them as a single organization and the PKK has indeed carried out large-scale attacks in inside Turkey.

Communication between the United States and Turkey has continued over Syria, despite the countries' differences.

The comments, which were immediately disputed by Turkish officials, represent the clearest indication yet of the seriousness in which Washington views Turkey's military operations in northern Syria, and the potential risk they could pose to the stability of the region. The proposed border force tells quite much regarding the way in which the Pentagon intends to move about indicating its support to the Kurdish proxies and that is in the long-term in Syria.

The United Nations says an estimated 5,000 people have been displaced inside the encircled enclave, and that Kurdish forces are not allowing civilians to leave.

Trump also warned Erdogan about "the destructive and false" anti-American rhetoric which he said was emanating from Turkey, as the two North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies find themselves at odds over territory close to the Turkish border which is controlled by the Syrian Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG).

Although the US does not have any forces in Afrin province, it deployed troops to Manbij March previous year, following Kurdish forces taking control of the town in 2016.


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