Erdogan Vows To Uproot 'Terror Nests' In Kurd-Controlled Syria
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday vowed Turkey would soon begin an operation against towns in Syria controlled by Kurdish militia, calling the areas "nests" of terror.
The Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) militia controls key Syrian northern towns including Manbij and Afrin and is an ally of the U.S., but Ankara accuses the group of being a terror organisation.
"Tomorrow, (or) the day after, (or) within a short period, we will get rid of terror nests one-by-one in Syria starting with Afrin and Manbij" in northern Syria, Erdogan promised in his weekly televised speech to his faction in parliament.
Erdogan has stepped up the warnings in recent days as Turkish media said dozens of military vehicles are being deployed to the border area.
Some Twitter account users suggest attack is imminent in the next 48 hours, but other conversations ridicule Erdogan for making daily threats with action.
Anadolu Agency (AA), a Turkish agency, has reported howitzer action in Afrin on Monday evening, with no casualties noted.
Erdogan told reporters that the Afrin operation would be undertaken "together" with Syrian opposition fighters, like the Euphrates Shield action against the YPG and the Islamic State extremist group.
Erdogan calls on NATO
The U.S.-led coalition fighting ISIS said at the weekend that it was working to create a 30,000-strong border security force in northern Syria.
On Sunday (Jan. 14) local sources reported that Syrian Kurdish fighters in Afrin had been provided with anti-aircraft missiles known as MANPADS (man-portable air-defense systems) by the U.S.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan reacted strongly and has threatened to attack the canton “in the days ahead” to clear it of the YPG fighters.
"The slightest disturbance on the border would be the signal for us to take a step," Erdogan said in a televised speech on Sunday.
The Turkish president called on NATO, of which Turkey has been a member since 1952, to take a stand against attacks on Turkey.
"Hey NATO! You are obliged to take a stand with your partners in the event of any border aggression," Erdogan thundered. "Until now, what position have you taken?"
Turkish Chief of Staff General General Hulusi Akar is in Brussels until Wednesday for meetings with his NATO counterparts including U.S. military's top figure General Joseph Dunford.
Akar was quoted by state-run Anadolu news agency as saying that Turkey "would not and will not allow an extension of the PKK to be given support and armed under the guise of 'operational partner'."
Despite friction between the NATO allies, Erdogan said he was "not considering making a call" to U.S. President Donald Trump, according to Turkish media.