ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Sunday claimed that he was ready to go to Afrin in Syrian Kurdistan (Rojava) as an offensive by his government’s forces against the US-backed Kurdish forces enters the ninth day.
Speaking at a local Justice and Development Party (AKP) congress in the Amasya Province, Erdogan said he would go to Afrin “if necessary,” urging his supporters to follow him.
“If needed, I, the top commander, would be the first one to go to Afrin. You would then follow me,” the state-run Anadolu Agency quoted the Turkish President.
Regarding Turkey’s capture of the strategic Bursaya Mountian in northern Afrin on Sunday, Erdogan said Ankara would expand its operation and “clean our entire border” all the way to Iraq.
Turkish warplanes began striking the Kurdish city of Afrin last week with ground troops entering the region as well.
The campaign dubbed “Operation Olive Branch” is meant to clear Syria’s Kurdish-held northwest district of People’s Protection Units (YPG) fighters who Turkey claims are an offshoot of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
Ankara has labeled the US-backed Kurdish forces a “terrorist organization” and has been infuriated by Washington’s support for the YPG.
The US, which is backing the Kurds in the ongoing battle against the Islamic State (IS) in Syria, said it was concerned and has called on Turkey to limit its military offensive in the Kurdish region of Afrin.
Meanwhile, Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu on Saturday said it was mandatory for America to “withdraw” its troops from Manbij, east of Afrin, urging Washington to take “more concrete steps rather than words.”