Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced on Tuesday that the military operation his country is planning on waging against Kurdish forces in Syria’s Afrin region will be backed by Syrian opposition fighters.
In recent days, Erdogan has repeatedly warned of an imminent incursion in Afrin after the US-led coalition said it was working with the mainly Kurdish YPG-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) to set up a new 30,000-strong border force.
The plan has infuriated Turkey, which considers the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) as an extension of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) group, which has fought an insurgency in southeast Turkey since 1984. The PKK is considered a terrorist group by the European Union, Turkey and the United States.
Asked if the opposition would be involved in the operation against Afrin, Erdogan told reporters in parliament: “Of course they will, together. This struggle is being conducted for them. Not for us.”
Speaking at a meeting of NATO top brass in Brussels, armed forces chief General Hulusi Akar said Turkey will not allow the YPG to receive support and said NATO should not differentiate between terrorist groups, state-run Anadolu agency reported.
“We cannot and will not allow support and arming of the YPG terror group under the name of an operational partner. We hope this mistake will be corrected in the shortest time,” he was reported as saying.
The Turkish army had sent more military reinforcements to its units that are deployed on the Syrian border.
“Our Turkish armed forces will resolve the Afrin and Manbij issues soon. Our military reinforcements are complete and we will launch our operations as soon as possible,” said Erdogan.