ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan24) - Ankara was ready to initiate a military invasion of the self-declared Kurdish canton of Afrin in northwestern Syria, a top aide to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Thursday.
Speaking to the state television TRT, Erdogan's spokesperson Ibrahim Kalin said Afrin, controlled by the US-allied People's Protection Units (YPG), constituted a threat to his country's national security and borders.
"Turkey will intervene as it finds the time and the place suitable. Let everyone come to their senses," he reiterated a months-old threat on Afrin.
"Our President says we may suddenly show up one night," Kalin said, reminding of a phrase oft-used by Erdogan to imply military action.
Erdogan has employed the saying taken from a popular Turkish love song also to threaten Kurdistan Region for its last week referendum on independence that was approved by 92.7 percent of voters.
Kalin claimed Turkey's problem was not with the Kurds in Afrin but with the ruling Democratic Union Party (PYD), the ruling party in Syrian Kurdistan.
He added Ankara had no plans to punish the Kurdish people in the Kurdistan Region either, but his country's reaction was "only meant to force the regional administration reverse the mistake;" last week's referendum on independence from Iraq.
"By no means, we harbor hostility or prejudice toward our Kurdish citizens in Turkey or the Kurds of Iraq, Syria, and Iran for that matter," Kalin said.
Turkey has for weeks been beefing up tanks and troops on the border with Afrin as a drill joined by Iraqi forces continued near a commercial crossing with Kurdistan Region.
In Afrin, surrounded from the north and west by Turkey and isolated from the other two self-declared Kurdish autonomous cantons of Kobani and Jazira, the US has no military presence.
American troops deployed to support Kurdish forces in the war against the Islamic State (IS) group act as de facto peace-keeping forces between Turkey and the YPG along the border in Kobani and Jazira.
However, Kurds in Afrin mostly rely on a regiment of the Russian army to keep any Turkish threat in check.
YPG has previously announced that any Turkish invasion would meet with resistance and disrupt an ongoing campaign to liberate the IS de facto capital of Raqqa in eastern Syria.
In October 2016, a score of Turkish airstrikes killed over 100 fighters in airstrikes on Afrin that drew condemnation from Russia, and which the US described as "uncoordinated movements."
Editing by Ava Homa