Erdogan says Turkey to drive Kurds from Syria and Iraq

After Afrin, now aiming at Manbij, Kobane, and possibly Sinjar

19 March, 18:41

    ISTANBUL - Turkey is ready to take military action to drive the remaining Kurds of the northern Syrian Democratic Union Party (PYD) out of northern Syria, following the Turkish military offensive in Afrin, as well as to drive Kurds of the Iraqi-based Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) from northern Iraq, said Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

    The Turkish military is aiming in particular at Kobane, the city that symbolises the Kurdish revenge against ISIS.

    "By taking the centre of Afrin, we have accomplished the most important step," Erdogan said in Ankara.

    "We will continue with Manbij, Ayn al Arab (Kobane), Tal Abyad, Rasulayd, and Qamishli, until the corridor of terror is totally eliminated," he said, referring to northern Syria.

    He said since the start of Turkey's Operation Olive Branch, 3,622 Kurdish YPG and ISIS militants have been "neutralised" (killed, injured or captured).

    "We have invited Baghdad to resolve the problem" of the Kurdish PKK in northern Iraq, Erdogan said.

    "If that doesn't happen, we will also intervene in Sinjar," he said.

    "One night, we could enter Sinjar without warning," he said, using the same phrase he used prior to the military campaign in Afrin.

    A high-ranking Kurdish-Syrian official, Aldar Xelil, said that with the Turkish "occupation" in Afrin, "all of northern Syria is in danger".

    Xelil said Erdogan is trying to reestablish the type of influence in Syria that existed during the Ottoman Empire.

    According to local Kurdish sources and the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, Afrin is now almost entirely under Turkish control, although some pockets of Kurdish YPG resistance still remain.

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