United States needs to withdraw from Syria's Manbij region immediately: Turkish FM

Rockets fired from Syria killed two people and wounded 11 others on January 24 in southern Turkey on the fifth day of Ankara's offen

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan vowed on Friday to purge his country's border from "terrorists", saying that Ankara may expand its current operation in northwestern Syria to the Iraqi border, Asharq Al-Awsat reports.

The Turkish military launched the cross-border Operation Olive Branch with Free Syrian Army to fight the Syrian Kurdish militia on January 20, targeting the YPG elements in the Kurdish enclave through airstrikes and land forces. Turkish authorities have also threatened the Turkish forces' push into Afrin would stretch further east, to the Syrian Kurdish town of Manbij and until the border with Iraq.

The Syrian Democratic Forces said the first week of Turkey's incursion had left more than 100 civilians and fighters dead. "We hereby call on Turkey to cease military actions and refrain from further escalation of the clashes and attacks", the Armenian lawmaker stressed, also voicing the ALDE group call upon all the worldwide community "to intervene in and stop further rise of violence and the mass violations of human rights in Syria". It estimates that there are around 400,000 people trapped under the government's siege. An expansion of Turkey's ground and aerial assault on the YPG to Manbij could result in conflict with United States troops. The U.S. -backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) are dominated by YPG fighters.

The current Turkish military operation against Afrin and the very recent failed Kurdish independence referendum in Iraqi Kurdistan, have shown that global and regional powers have no willingness to see any Kurdish national or autonomist aspirations come to fruition. First and foremost was to keep Turkey in the Astana peace process because Ankara brings legitimacy to the talks, given that the other two actors, Russian Federation and Iran, are supporters of the Syrian regime. Ankara considers the YPG a terrorist organization linked to a Kurdish insurgency inside Turkey.

It would need to determine whether it would support its North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ally Turkey, the Kurdish fighters it has backed to defeat IS, or somehow forge some sort of compromise between the two sides.

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According to the Turkish General Staff, Operation Olive Branch aims to establish security and stability along Turkish borders and the region as well as to protect the Syrian people from the oppression and cruelty of terrorists.

Bas News did not independently confirm Roj's claims, but they are consistent with expectations critics have of a clash between the battle-hardened YPG-the group recently expelled ISIS from Raqqa, its "capital" - and the significantly handicapped Turkish military. Quoted by the presidency, Erdogan said that once the "cleansing of terrorists" is completed in Afrin, the area will be handed back to its "principal residents".

Donald Trab, in a telephone conversation he had with Erdogan on Wednesday, had asked Ankara to avoid moves that could result in Turkish forces clashing with the US forces in the area.

Following the Erdogan-Trump telephone talks, the U.S. envoy to the coalition against IS, Brett McGurk, said on Twitter the "prolonged operation risks giving life to ISIS (IS) as it's on verge of defeat".

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