The Turkish-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA) is on alert and waiting for the order to attack Syria's Kurdish canton of Afrin, Ahmed Osman, the commander of the FSA's Sultan Murad Brigade, told Sputnik Turkey.
While Daesh (ISIS/ISIL) in Syria has been almost destroyed, the FSA is going focus on the fight against the Kurdish People's Protection Units, the commander highlighted.
"There are clashes between the FSA and the YPG in Manbij from time to time," Osman said. "There are a lot of Arab and Turkmen villages in the area under the YPG control. We must liberate these territories and clean [the YPG] out from Afrin."
According to information received by Sputnik from sources in the FSA, Turkey, together with the FSA units, which previously took part in the Euphrates Shield operation, continues preparing for an offensive on Afrin controlled by the YPG.
Detachments of Turkish special forces have also been sent to the region. In addition, field hospitals have been deployed at the Syrian-Turkish border, as well as near Afrin and Idlib.
During a local meeting of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) on December 17, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan reiterated that Ankara views the YPG as a terrorist group.
"The drama in Raqqa made it clear — without no chance for denial — that Daesh and the YPG are two sides of the same coin," the Turkish president said referring to a BBC November report unveiling an alleged deal between the Kurdish-dominated Syrian Democratic Force (SDF) and the terrorists involving the evacuation of Daesh fighters and their families from Syria's Raqqa.
The Turkish leadership regards the liberation of Afrin as one of its top priorities. On November 17, Turkish President Erdogan announced that Ankara was seeking to liberate Afrin from the YPG and PYD in order to prevent the creation of a Kurdish "corridor" in northern Syria, near Turkey's borders.
Earlier, in November, while the Turks were busy making preparations for the advance, Foza Yusuf, executive council co-chair of the self-proclaimed Democratic Federation of Northern Syria (DFNS), and Nuri Mahmud, of the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG), told Sputnik that the Kurdish self-defense units were determined to defend the city from Turkish "aggression."
It was reported that the YPG and SDF had been amassing heavy weapons and further reinforcements to protect Afrin from Turkey and its allies.
"In Afrin we will stand on the defensive and oppose invaders like we did in Kobani," Yusuf stressed.
The views and opinions expressed by Ahmed Osman are those of the speaker and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.