News ID: 208569
Published: 0143 GMT January 22, 2018

Erdogan: 'No step back' in operation against Kurds in Syria

Erdogan: 'No step back' in operation against Kurds in Syria

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday vowed that Turkey would not take any step back in its operation against Kurdish militia in Syria's Afrin region, saying the campaign had the backing of Moscow.

"We are determined. Afrin will be sorted out. We will take no step back. We spoke about this with our Russian friends. We have an agreement," Erdogan told a televised meeting in Ankara, AFP reported.

The Turkish military on Saturday launched operation "Olive Branch", its second major incursion into Syrian territory during the seven-year war.

The operation, where Turkish war planes and artillery are backing a major ground incursion launched with Ankara-backed Syrian militants and Turkish tanks, aims to oust the People's Protection Units (YPG) militia from its enclave of Afrin.

A green light from Russia, which has a military presence in northern Syria, is seen as crucial in ensuring the operation is a success. Moscow has not confirmed the existence of such an agreement.

Dmitry Peskov, spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin, told reporters Monday that Moscow is “carefully watching the operation” in Afrin” and is in touch with both the Syrian and the Turkish government.

Erdogan confirmed that Turkey had spoken with other powers, including the United States, about the operation but admitted "we couldn't convince the US on some things." He did not give further details.

"We as Turkey have no intention to occupy anywhere. We have one single goal – to win hearts," said Erdogan.

He said the operation would be over "when the target is achieved."

Intense clashes erupted on the third day of the Ankara offensive as Turkish troops and their allies advanced on Afrin where Turkey says it aims to create a 30-kilometer (20-mile) deep “secure zone”.



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