The Kurdish Syrian enclave of Afrin “will soon fall completely, God willing,” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan declared in a speech. He added that he hopes it will happen by Wednesday evening.
The statement came as Erdogan addressed local administrators at the presidential compound in Ankara. He also said civilian residents of the area were being evacuated through humanitarian corridors organized by Turkey.
Ankara launched an operation in northwestern Syria two months ago after the US announced that it was planning to boost the predominantly-Kurdish militia force, SDF, with training and weapons. The militias played the role of the ground force for the US-led siege of Raqqa, the now-destroyed stronghold of the terrorist group Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS).
The Turkish government considers Syrian Kurdish militias an extension of the domestic Kurdish militant movement, the PKK. Ankara and the PKK have been locked in a decades-long armed conflict that claimed thousands of lives. The empowerment of Syrian Kurds was perceived as a serious threat to national security by the Erdogan government.
Erdogan has reproached NATO allies over their failure to support his “counter-terrorist” operation in the Kurdish-held Syrian region.
“Hey NATO where are you? We’re fighting so much. NATO, is Turkey not a NATO country? Where are you? You’ve invited NATO-member states to Afghanistan,” Erdogan said in an inflammatory comment.
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