Turkish President signaled a possible military operation to purge Afrin and Manbaj of the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) and crush its elements if they do not withdraw in one week.
This coincided with the most violent shelling by Turkish artillery on areas belonging to the militants of the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) north Syria.
Speaking at the provincial congress meetings of his ruling Justice and Development (AKP) in the eastern province of Elazıg on Saturday, Erdogan said “If the terrorists in Afrin do not surrender, we will destroy them.”
“In Manbij, if they break promises, we will take matter into our own hands until there are no terrorists left. They will see what we’ll do in about a week,” Erdogan added.
Erdogan said the YPG was trying to establish a “terror corridor” on Turkey’s southern border.
“With the Euphrates Shield operation we cut the terror corridor right in the middle. We hit them one night suddenly. With the Idlib operation, we are collapsing the western wing,” Erdogan said, referring to Afrin.
“Turkey will continue to be in the field and at the table in all matters concerning its national security,” Erdogan further noted.
He stressed that any venture in the region “has no chance of success” if Turkey has no consent in it, referring to the YPG’s effort to settle in Syria’s northern regions along the Turkish border.
The Turkish President also attacked Washington saying that “the United States thinks it has established an army of looters in Syria, and it will see how we will destroy these thieves in less than a week,"expressing disappointment towards the US position.
He criticized the United States for arming YPG and Arab fighters in the Syrian Democratic Forces, which drove ISIS out of Raqqa and other parts of Syria.
"The US sent 4,900 trucks of weapons in Syria. We know this. This is not what allies do," Erdogan said. "We know they sent 2,000 planes full of weapons."
Diplomatic ties between Ankara and Washington have been strained by several disagreements, particularly over the US’s partnership with the YPG in the anti-ISIS campaign.
Ankara sees the YPG as a terrorist group linked to the PKK, which has waged a deadly insurgency in Turkey for over three decades.