'Turkey can enter Afrin centre at any moment'


Ankara considers the YPG to be a Syrian extension of the PKK, who form the majority of the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

Turkey launched operation "Olive Branch" on January 20 against the YPG, a powerful militia that controls the Afrin region in northwest Syria and which Ankara regards as a "terror group".

The Kurdish YPG is contesting this claim, however, with YPG spokesman Nouri Mahmoud saying that the Turks are more like 10 to 15 km away from Afrin, and that they definitely do not have the city surrounded.

In his speech, Erdogan said the military operation would not end with the seizure of Afrin. "We will defend Afrin and all the areas of Rojava from Turkey's advances".

Speaking in Turkey's capital Ankara, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan also emphasised that Turkish troops will move on Manbij and other YPG-held areas in northern Syria after Afrin. "The next day we will ensure that the east of Euphrates will be cleared of terrorists up to the Iraqi border", he said.

The US and the YPG terror group, which have been receiving American weapons and support under the pretext of fighting Daesh, are stationed in Manbij and on the eastern side of the Euphrates River.

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Nauert added that, "This is an introductory meeting where we can start to hopefully work out some of these issues".

Tensions between the United States and Turkey has escalated as a result of the operation, with Ankara accusing Washington of leaving pockets of Daesh militants in Syria intact to justify continued cooperation with Kurdish forces in the country.

Turkish authorities often use the word "neutralized" in their statements to imply the terrorists in question either surrendered or were killed or captured.

"To date 850 square kilometers have been taken under our control".

"Olive Branch" initially made slow progress, but the capture on Thursday of Jandairis, a major town in the Kurdish-held enclave, has given the operation a clear shot at the central town of Afrin.

Erdogan noted that a total of 815 square kilometres (506 square miles) have been cleared from the terrorists so far.