Erdogan says Turkey can enter Syrian town of Afrin 'at any moment'

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks during a meeting in Ankara Turkey

President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan makes a speech as he attends the inauguration of governing Justice and Development (AK) Party's Politics Academy in Ankara, Turkey on March 09, 2018.

Turkey launched its operation seeking to oust Kurdish People s Protection Units (YPG) militia from the Afrin region of northern Syria on January 20 and Erdogan said Thursday its forces could now enter Afrin town at "any moment".

Syria has slammed both Turkish and USA military activities on its soil as a violation of the Arab nation's sovereignty.

Nauert added that, "This is an introductory meeting where we can start to hopefully work out some of these issues". "We are in Afrin today, we will be in Manbij tomorrow".

Turkish officials often use the word "neutralized" in their statements to imply the militants in question either surrendered or were killed or captured.

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The Kurdish YPG is contesting this claim, however, with YPG spokesman Nouri Mahmoud saying that the Turks are more like 10 to 15 km away from Afrin, and that they definitely do not have the city surrounded. "We will take the entire area under control in the first phase and send our brothers from Afrin back to their lands", Erdogan further said, adding that the Turkish troops had already "made safe" an area extending to 815 square kilometers.

Despite the nationwide Syrian cease-fire brokered by the United Nations Security Council on February 24, Turkey has intensified attacks to dislodge the main Syrian Kurdish militia, the YPG.

According to the Turkish General Staff, the operation aims to establish security and stability along Turkey's borders and the region as well as protect Syrians from the oppression and cruelty of terrorists.

With this progress, a total of 35 percent of the villages and towns in the countryside of Afrin have been seized by the Turkish forces, said the Britain-based watchdog group. "The target is to get 2,000 square kilometers under our control", Erdo─čan told a public rally in the southern Mersin province.

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