On January 20, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said during a public speech in the central Anatolian province that the Turkish military operation against Kurdish militias in Afrin area has “actively begun in the field”. He added that the city of Manbij will be the next destination for the Turkish Army, according to the Turkish Hürriyet Daily newspaper.
The Turkish president also accused the US of not fulfilling promises it had made to Turkey regrading Manbij and vowed to fight the Kurdish militants in the entire northern part of Syria up to the Iraqi border.
“The promises made to us over Manbij were not kept. So nobody can object if we do what is necessary … Later we will, step by step, clear our country up to the Iraqi border from this terror filth that is trying to besiege our country,” Erdogan said during his speech according to Hürriyet.
Erdogan also hinted that the US is changing the names of Kurdish forces in Syria in order to trick others and stressed that the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and the Democratic Union Party (PYD) are all considered terrorist groups by Turkey.
“The PKK, YPG, PYD are all the same; changing names does not change the fact that they are terror organizations … They are playing games in Syria in their own way, by changing the terror organization’s name … Who are you kidding? This same organization’s name is PKK, PYD, YPG,” said Erdogan according to the Turkish Anadolu Agency.
A huge convoy of Faylaq al Sham is on the way of Afrin. (Part1)
Afrin operasyonuna katılacak Feylak Şam konvoyu.
— . (@op_shield) 20 January 2018
Meanwhile, Syrian opposition sources reported that the Turkish Army artillery continued shelling positions of the YPG on the Syrian-Turkish border around Afrin in northern Aleppo. In response, the YPG shelled the Turkish-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA) in Twice village east of Afrin with mortars, killing two FSA fighters, according to the Hawar News Agency (ANHA).
The Turkish Army also deployed more vehicles and tanks around Afrin area, which indicate that the Turkish side has not finished yet its preparations for the long-awaited military operation.
— Stefanie Dekker (@StefanieDekker) 20 January 2018
— Yeni Şafak English (@yenisafakEN) 20 January 2018