Turkey, Iraq to carry out joint operation against Kurdish militants
12 March, 2018, 06:33
Speaking to supporters Saturday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan asked, "Hey NATO, where are you?" and accused the alliance of double standards. "We are constantly harassed by terror groups on our borders".
Turkey launched a solo military offensive against the Syrian Kurdish People's Protection Units or YPG on January 20 to clear them from Afrin in northwestern Syria.
"In the Afrin region, the owners of the lands have started to come back", said Erdogan.
Ankara views the group as an extension of the Turkey-based Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which it and other countries describe as a "terrorist" organisation.
As part of the Turkey-led Operation Olive Branch, the FSA captured the base after a brief clash with the militants.
Under operation "Olive Branch" 3,213 terrorists have been neutralised till now. "Turkey will fight terrorists anywhere they operate", he added.
"Once we have purged the terrorists (from Afrin) we will then cleanse them from Manbij, Ayn al-Arab (Kobane), Tel-Abyad, Ras al-Ayn and Qamishli", he said in televised comments.
Thousands of people have fled heavy shelling on villages and towns near the Turkish border, many of them into Afrin town.
Last month, pro-regime forces entered the Afrin region to take a stand against the Turkish offensive. The latter has been fighting for an autonomous region inside Turkey since 1984.
More than 1,200 people, including security force personnel and civilians, have lost their lives since the PKK - listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the USA, and European Union - resumed its decades-old armed campaign in July 2015.
The 50,000-strong YPG has allied with the U.S. in eradicating the Islamic State group from northern Syria and have been armed by the USA since May 2017.
Ankara says 42 Turkish soldiers have died in the fight.
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