Erdogan: Turkish troops on the verge of entering Afrin


"Right now, Afrin city center is surrounded", Anadolu Agency quoted Erdogan as saying at the inauguration of the ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party's Politics Academy in Ankara.

Turkey launched its operation, dubbed "Olive Branch", in northern Syria almost seven weeks ago to sweep the Syrian Kurdish YPG from the Turkish border.

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Friday said Turkish forces and allied rebels could enter the centre of the Kurdish-held Syrian town of Afrin "at any moment", a day after capturing another strategic town.

He added that Turkey will help Afrin to rebuild and fix, including its electricity, water, education, and healthcare systems, just like it did in Jarablus, Ar-rai, Azaz and Al-Bab, after clearing these Syrian cities of Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL) miliants during Turkey's Operation Euphrates Shield.

Syria has slammed both Turkish and U.S. military activities on its soil as a violation of the Arab nation's sovereignty. "We are removing the last remaining obstacles standing before our besieging of Afrin city centre", he said, adding there was still about six kilometres (3.7 miles) to go to reach Afrin from the outskirts of Jinderes.

The US forces in Manbij have recently resisted Turkey's calls for them to leave the area. "We are in Afrin today, we will be in Manbij tomorrow. Approximately 850 square kilometers are under our control during the Afrin operation, and our aim is to clear 2,000 square kilometers from terrorists", he added.

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The PKK, listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States, and the European Union, resumed its 30-year armed campaign against Turkey government in July 2015 after a brief reconciliation period.

F-16 fighters of the Turkish Air Force are involved in the operation, inflicting strikes on the positions of PYD/YPG on the Syrian-Turkish border.

When questioned as to what would happen if the Afrin operation did not end by May, Cavusoglu assured that Turkey was capable of conducting two campaigns simultaneously.

The military also said only terror targets were being destroyed and "utmost care" was being taken to not harm civilians.

"Then we will ensure security there and send our [displaced] brothers of Afrin back to their homes".