Erdogan asks Turkey to rid Syria’s Tal Rifaat and Manbij of terrorists

A Turkish flag flies over a military vehicle at the border of the city of Manbij, Syria, November 1, 2018. REUTERS/Rodi Said

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ANKARA, June 1 (Reuters) – President Tayyip Erdogan said on Wednesday Turkey would rid Syria’s northern Tal Rifaat and Manbij regions of terrorists, confirming for the first time the targets of the new incursion and claiming that it would continue in other regions.

His comments, in a speech to lawmakers from his ruling AK party, came a week after he promised another military incursion on Turkey’s southern border against the US-backed Syrian Kurdish YPG militia. that Ankara considers a terrorist group.

“We are entering the new phase of our determination to form a 30 km (20 mile) deep security zone along our southern border. We will rid Tal Rifaat and Manbij of terrorists, and we will do the same in other areas .-step by step,” he said.

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“Let’s see who supports these legitimate steps of Turkey and who hinders them,” Erdogan added.

Ankara has carried out four operations in northern Syria since 2016, seizing hundreds of kilometers of land and pushing some 30km deep into the country, mainly targeting the YPG.

While supporting opposing sides in the war in Syria, Turkey has coordinated military operations with Russia.

Turkey’s cross-border operations have been criticized by its NATO allies, notably the United States, and some have imposed a series of arms embargoes on Ankara. Washington has expressed concern over any new offensive in northern Syria, saying it would put US troops at risk and undermine regional stability. Read more

Ankara’s announcement of a new offensive in Syria coincides with its objections to Finland’s and Sweden’s offers to NATO on the grounds that they support Kurdish militants and groups that Turkey considers terrorists, and because of arms embargoes imposed by a 2019 Turkish offensive in northern Syria. Read more

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Reporting by Tuvan Gumrukcu and Ezgi Erkoyun; Written by Daren Butler; Editing by Jonathan Spicer and Alison Williams

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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