13:29 GMT +310 December 2018
Listen Live
    A Turkish military convoy passes through Kafr Halab in the south of Aleppo province on February 5, 2018

    If Syrian Forces Enter Afrin, It Will Lead to Catastrophe - Turkish Deputy PM

    © AFP 2018 / AAREF WATAD
    Middle East
    Get short URL
    263727

    Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdag has commented on reports about the possible deployment of Syrian government forces to Afrin during a news conference following a cabinet meeting.

    According to the official, Ankara doesn't believe these reports, adding that Turkey didn't have any proof yet.

    "The news of the agreement between the YPG [Kurdish militia] and the Syrian government for the latter to send forces to Afrin appeared today. We are following these reports. The information has not been confirmed to us through official channels. As far as we know, nobody is talking about sending Syrian government forces there at the moment," Bozdag told reporters.

    However, as the deputy prime minister specified, if the Syrian armed forces entered Afrin to support Kurdish militants, this would lead to a catastrophe, giving a green light to split the country.

    "If the Syrian government enters [Afrin] to support the YPG, it will pave the way for a catastrophe," Bozdag said.

    The deputy prime minister continued by saying that Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan had discussed the situation in Afrin earlier in the day and Russia's stance on Turkey's military operation in Afrin remained the same as before.

    The statement was made following reports made by Syrian state TV claiming that Syrian government forces would enter Afrin "within hours."

    READ MORE: Pro-Syrian Gov't Forces to Enter Afrin 'Within Hours' - State Media

    However, this information has been denied by YPG representative in Afrin Brusk Haseke, who called them false and fake news in his interview to Sputnik.

    Addressing the issue earlier in the day, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu stated that in case if the troops entered the besieged city to support terrorists (referring to the YPG forces), "no one will stop" the Turkish army.

    READ MORE: No One Can Stop Turkish Forces if Syrian Army Enters Afrin - FM 

    Olive Branch Operation

    Speaking about the course of Turkey's military operation in the area, codenamed Olive Branch, Bozdag stated that the advance would continue as planned.

    Commenting on the possibility of a standoff with the US-backed Kurdish forces on the ground, he expressed hope that there would be no need to extend the offensive to Manbij, as all existing issues might be solved through dialogue.

    READ MORE: Damascus to Deploy Forces in Afrin - Reports

    The comment followed Ankara's previous threats to push the military advance some 100 km (60 miles) east to Manbij, where Syrian Kurdish YPG troops are stationed. 

    Syrian Manbij has been a subject of dispute between Ankara and Washington for several years. Former US Vice President Joseph Biden promised in 2016 that all the soldiers of the Kurdish formations of the People's Protection Units (YPG), which are part of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) coalition, will leave the city and move to the eastern shore of the Euphrates River after the liberation of Manbij from militants of the Daesh terrorist group (banned in Russia).

    Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan has stated repeatedly that the operation "Olive Branch," which Turkey is conducting in the north of Syria, may be extended to the city of Manbij, and urged the US to withdraw its units from there. In early February, Bekir Bozdag said that the Turkish Armed Forces could enter Manbij if SDF forces did not leave the city, and that even American servicemen dressed in the SDF uniform could be targeted.

    Such a possible move could trigger a potential confrontation between Turkish forces and US troops deployed around the town.

    The operation against Kurdish militants in Afrin was launched on January 20, when the Turkish forces started a massive attack against the US-backed Kurdish People's Protection Units, or YPG groups, which now control Afrin and are affiliated by Ankara to the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) - a terrorist organization, according to Turkey. 

    The Syrian side, in its turn, has slammed the Turkish operation as "treacherous aggression," calling it an attempt to undermine the country's sovereignty.

    Tags:
    Operation Olive Branch, Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG), Afrin, Turkey, Syria
    Community standardsDiscussion
    Comment via FacebookComment via Sputnik