Turkey calls on US to stop YPG militants’ advance to Syria’s Afrin
A high-ranking Turkish official has called upon the United States to stop militants from the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) from moving to Syria’s northwestern region of Afrin, where Ankara is conducting a cross-border military operation.
According to Press TV, speaking to reporters at the presidential complex in the capital Ankara on Wednesday, Turkish Presidential Spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said his country expects US authorities to stop YPG terrorists “shifting” from the northern Syrian city of Manbij, located 30 kilometers west of the Euphrates, to Afrin.
“We have taken the necessary measures on the ground via official channels, and we will continue to take [such steps]. This is our most natural right. Whether they do it or not is a separate question,” Kalin pointed out.
The remarks came on the same day that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said a total of 2,960 YPG terrorists have been "neutralized" since the start of Operation Olive Branch in Syria.
Turkish authorities often use the word "neutralized" to imply the terrorists in question either surrendered or were killed or captured.
Ankara views the YPG as the Syrian branch of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) militant group that has been fighting for an autonomous region inside Turkey since 1984.
Erdogan has repeatedly said that Afrin should be cleared of “terrorists,” and demanded the deployment of Turkish troops there during a speech back in November 2016.
This is while US officials regard the YPG as the most effective fighting force against the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group in northern Syria, and have substantially increased their weaponry and technology support to the group.
The controversy over a possible Syria border force first started on January 14 when a report emerged on Reuters saying that the military coalition led by the United States in Syria was planning to set up a large border force of up to 30,000 personnel with the aid of its militia allies.
The Syrian government has already condemned the Turkish offensive against Afrin, rejecting Ankara’s claim about having informed Damascus of the operation.
Damascus "strongly condemns the brutal Turkish aggression on Afrin, which is an inseparable part of Syrian territory," Syria's official news agency SANA cited a Syrian Foreign Ministry source as saying on January 20.
“Syria completely denies claims by the Turkish government that it was informed of this military operation,” the source added.