Turkish Deputy PM reiterates determination to eliminate YPG terrorists in Afrin

Published 08.08.2017 21:19

Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdağ reiterated Ankara's stance on Afrin, Syria, saying that the government is resolute in eliminating "terrorists" in the town and retaliating against all kinds of attacks from there.

Hosting journalists at the TRT Ankara Bureau on Aug. 7, Bozdağ signaled future operations across Syria, saying: "All kinds of attacks on Turkey will be retaliated against immediately whether from Afrin or other regions.

"Turkey has quickly responded to harassment from time to time and it will continue to do so. Turkey has been following recent incidents in Syria in order to secure its interests and maintain peace in the region. We will not hesitate to take the necessary steps for our country and the region."

He also hinted at new operations that might be launched in the near future.

While discussions for future operations across Syria continue, some Turkish media outlets claimed that Turkey and Russia are negotiating on an operation to take full control of Afrin. Ankara reportedly proposed an offer to the Kremlin that would help the Bashar Assad regime regain control of Idlib in return for the eviction of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) from Afrin.

During the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) foreign ministers meeting in the Philippine capital of Manila last week, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu discussed the situation in Syria with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov.

Çavuşoğlu reportedly presented the offer envisaging operations in Idlib and Afrin. Having blocked the PYD's east-west corridor with Operation Euphrates Shield, Turkey has accelerated its efforts for a second offensive in order to prevent the terrorist group from connecting its cantons in the east and the west.

According to the offer, Russian and Turkish forces would conduct a joint operation against al-Nusra elements in Idlib. Following the Idlib operation, the PYD would be eliminated in Afrin by the remaining opposition groups.

Russia may reportedly be willing to agree to the Turkish offer. However, the details of the operations are yet to be announced.

People's Protection Units (YPG) elements often open fire along the Turkish border, which creates a security risk. The U.S. criticized Turkey when it responded to harassment fire in June. Washington insists that Daesh should be the first and foremost target and everyone should focus on the Raqqa operation.

Ankara has frequently stressed its sensitivities regarding border security and that it will never allow a "terrorist corridor" to be formed by the YPG in Syria. Ankara has severely criticized ties between the YPG and the U.S., while the U.S. administration claims that it partners with the YPG for strategic reasons and will cut off ties after operations against Daesh end.

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