The Turkish military continues its advance on several fronts of Syria’s Afrin region. Turkey, alongside its Turkish-backed Syrian rebels, has already reportedly conquered several strategic positions from the YPG, as the Kurdish militia – the most powerful Kurdish force within the U.S. backed SDF alliance – is forced to retreat. Speaking at a congress of his ruling AK Party in the northern Turkish province of Amasya, Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan vowed to clear his country’s border region from terrorists, a reality that would allow the Syrian refugees that are hosted by Turkey to return to their homes in Syria. Erdogan said, “In Jarabulus, al-Rai and al-Bab, which we have previously cleared from terrorists, 130 thousand (Syrian) brothers have returned and settled back into their homes. Now, we are doing the same thing in Afrin. Step by step, we will clean our entire border with Syria from terrorists and make sure our brothers who have been living in our country for years can return to their homes,” the Turkish leader asserted.
Ankara views the YPG as a terrorist organization that serves as an extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party, PKK; and has been infuriated by U.S. support, including arms and training, for the YPG militia. That said, Washington has urged Ankara to de-escalate the situation, as the Kurdish fighters of the YPG have played a prominent role in the U.S.-led efforts to combat the Islamic State in Syria.