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Erdogan says Turkey to drive Kurds from Syria and Iraq

Erdogan says Turkey to drive Kurds from Syria and Iraq

Turkish forces backed by Syrian rebel groups swept into Afrin town on Sunday, raising their flag in the town center and declaring full control after an eight-week campaign to drive out Kurdish YPG fighters.

Turkey first launched military operations in Syria in 2016, and Erdogan has repeatedly said it will not allow a "terror corridor" along its border.

Turkey will continue the operation in Syria's Afrin until order and tranquility are ensured, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Monday, APA reported citing NTV channel.

The UN and the European Union list the PKK as a terrorist organization.

The YPG has been Washington's main ally against Islamic State in Syria, in a partnership that has infuriated Turkey which sees the Kurdish force as an extension of a militant group waging a decades-long insurgency in its own southeast.

Erdogan said on Monday that Turkey could expand military operations into other Kurdish-held areas of northern Syria and northern Iraq.

Erdo─čan also stated that northern Iraq is now on Turkey's radar, directly referencing the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party's (PKK) presence in Iraq's Sinjar province.

The Kurdish defense YPG announced the start of a "guerrilla war" against Turkey in the Syrian Afrin, reports Reuters.

"A YPG insurgency in Afrin would prompt Turkey to escalate against the Kurds throughout northern Syria, jeopardizing the US -led mission to stabilize the areas captured" from IS militants, he said.

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"We are not permanent there (in Afrin) and we are certainly not invaders".

"We remain committed to our North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ally Turkey, to include their legitimate security concerns".

Ankara and allied Syrian rebels began their assault on the Afrin region on Jan 20, seizing most of the canton before capturing its urban centre on Sunday.

"We need to give time to Washington because otherwise it means Turkish forces will fight USA forces in Manbij, which is not possible in my mind".

Already, thousands of Kurdish fighters have been redeployed away from front lines with IS to take part in the Afrin battle, threatening to distract from the fight against the extremists.

The Syrian Democratic Forces, an umbrella group predominantly comprised of the YPG Kurdish militia, had been in control of Afrin since 2012, after the outbreak of civil war in Syria.

USA officials expressed concern Monday about Afrin.

Khaled Khoja, a former head of the National Coalition leading opposition body, said: "We were unsettled by the news of some looting from the homes of our people in Afrin".

Azad Mohamed, an Afrin resident who arrived Sunday in a region to the east after two days on the road, said looting was underway in villages near Afrin even before the Turkish forces entered the town.

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