ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – The President of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, on Saturday, reiterated a long-time threat to invade the Kurdish region of Afrin in Syria, this time stating his army could begin an incursion into the neighboring country in less than a week.
“If the terrorists in Afrin do not surrender, we will bring [the world] down on them,” Erdogan said at a provincial congress of his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) in the Kurdish city of Elazig.
“If promises made about Manbij are not honored, we will take the matter into our own hands. And, they will see what we do in no more than a week,” he continued.
He was criticizing the United States for its continued military support to Kurdish forces which liberated the Syrian town of Manbij from the Islamic State (IS) in 2016 despite fierce Turkish objection to any Kurdish expansion to the west of the River Euphrates.
Kurdish officials have responded to Erdogan by promising a fierce resistance and warned against any action, as the US and Russia continue to develop military and diplomatic ties with them.
Meanwhile, the Turkish army staged at least 36 mortar attacks on the Jandairis, Basufan, and Rajo districts of Afrin, as it deployed more tanks in the Hatay Province on the border.
The isolated canton in northwestern Syria, a part of the self-declared Kurdish-led autonomy—but, cut from the rest of it—has now for years been on top of the Turkish President’s agenda who fears effects of self-rule among his country’s restive Kurds.
He went on harshly attacking the United States for militarily supporting the main Kurdish armed faction, the People’s Protection Units (YPG), during the fight against IS, adding Ankara could not maintain an alliance with its NATO partner Washington.
Turkey whose borders surround Afrin from the north and west of Afrin already keeps troops in the east and south of the town inside Syria.
He said the objective of his deploying soldiers to the al-Qaeda-ruled Idlib Province last year was to block Kurdish ambitions of reaching the Mediterranean Sea.
Syria’s embattled President Bashar al-Assad, a foe of Erdogan for the latter’s backing of rebels trying to topple the Damascus government, has also spoken of plans to crush Kurdish aspirations for autonomy.
In December 2017, he labeled the YPG and its multi-ethnic surrogate Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) as traitors for allying with the US.
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany