22:52 GMT +324 February 2018
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    In this February 22, 2015, file photo, a soldier gives the thumbs up as Turkish army's armored vehicles and tanks roll in Syrian town of Ayn al-Arab, also known as Kobani, as they return from the Ottoman tomb in Syria.

    Syrian Air Defense Ready to Destroy Turkish Aviation if They Attack - Deputy FM

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    Turkey threatens to launch a military operation in Syria's Afrin amid reports that the country has been shelling the area.

    "We warn the Turkish leadership that if they initiate combat operations in the Afrin area, that will be considered an act of aggression by the Turkish army," Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Meqdad told reporters.

    The diplomat went on by saying that the Syrian Armed Forces will respond to any actions taken by the Turkish army in the region.

    "Syria will respond to any hostile actions by Turkey or to military actions against it in an appropriate manner," Mekdad said.

    The statement was made following Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu's statement made earlier in the day, saying that Ankara would intervene in Syria's Afrin and Manbij, citing the threat posed by Kurdish militants to the integrity of the Syrian border.

    READ MORE: Turkey May Expand Syrian Operation to Manbij, East of Euphrates Amid YPG Worries

    Meanwhile, Turkey's General Staff has reportedly put the troops on the border with Syria on high alert, preparing for a possible operation in Syrian's Afrin against the armed formations of the Syrian Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG), which Turkey considers a terrorist organization associated with the Kurdistan Workers Party, which is banned in the country.

    Turkey has been threatening to launch an operation in Afrin after the US-led coalition's announcement concerning the training of a border protection force composed of the Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which mostly consists of the YPG, in northern Syria.

    Recently, media reports were circulating, claiming that the Turkish armed forces shelled territory under the control of Kurdish forces in Afrin, but there was no official confirmation of this information.

    READ MORE: Ankara to Prevent All Military Support to Syrian Kurds' YPG Militia

    As the US-led coalition's Col. Thomas Veale has explained, the SDF's training aims to create a 30,000-strong force to maintain security along Syria's borders, prompting harsh condemnation from Damascus and Ankara.

    The US Military Presence in Syria

    A position, similar to the Meqdad's, has been voiced regarding the US presence on Syrian soil by a source in the Syrian Foreign Ministry, as quoted by the state-run SANA news agency on January 18, who said that the internal affairs of any country should be managed by the people of that country.

    "The internal affairs in any country in the world is an exclusive right of the people of that country, thus nobody has the right to only give his opinion in that because this violates the international law and contradicts the most important theories of the constitutional law," the source said, adding that the US presence and all of Washington’s activities in Syria aim to protect Daesh.

    READ MORE: US-Led Coalition Refuses to Provide Details on Reported Arms Supply to SDF

    The comment was made after US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's statement, made on January 17, that the United States would continue to maintain its military presence in Syria to prevent the re-emergence of the Daesh terrorist group (banned in Russia), and called on US allies to increase economic pressure on Syrian President Bashar Assad. According to Tillerson, US diplomatic activities in Syria will be aimed at stabilizing the situation in the country, which does not involve open-ended nation-building or reconstruction of the war-torn country, and will seek to deter Iran’s efforts to achieve greater influence in the region.

    Tags:
    military operation in Syria, Afrin, Turkey, Syria
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