President Erdogan has vowed to extend the military operation along the Syrian border and on Sunday said the Turkish-led forces would take control of the town of Tal Rifaat.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks during a meeting of his governing AK Party in Trabzon, Turkey March 25, 2018.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks during a meeting of his governing AK Party in Trabzon, Turkey March 25, 2018. (Reuters)

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaking in Turkey's Black Sea province of Trabzon on Sunday said that ongoing operation in Syria would achieve its goal when Tel Rifaat in northern Aleppo is taken under control

Erdogan was referring to Operation Olive Branch which began on January 20 to clear PKK/YPG and Daesh terrorists from the region, successfully liberating the town centre of Afrin on March 18.

Speaking at his governing Justice and Development (AK) Party’s sixth ordinary provincial congress Erdogan said: “God willing, we will achieve this operation’s goal by taking control of Tel Rifaat within a short period.”

The president also urged the US to transfer control of Syria's Manbij from YPG/PKK terrorist organization to the city’s “real owners."

"The US needs to hand over Manbij from YPG/PKK terrorists to its true owners, the Syrian people," Erdogan said.

"If the PKK/YPG terror group is not removed from Manbij, we will be forced to remove them with the support of the local Syrian people," Erdogan said.

“Together with our brothers and sisters, we can raise Manbij’s substructure and superstructure,” he added, emphasising this would allow the people of the region to return their homes.

Turkey and the US have been trying to iron out a number of issues and the northern Syrian city of Manbij has been one of the hotly debated points of contention between the two NATO allies.

The US has supported the PKK/YPG under the name of SDF, which is considered by Ankara as the Syrian offshoot of the PKK terror organisation that has waged a more than a 30-year war against the Turkish state.

The US had promised to meet Ankara's demands, primarily to stop arming the PKK/YPG and ensure its withdrawal to the east of the Euphrates, but has not delivered on the promises so far.

Turkey is looking to establish an arrangement that would lead to the withdrawal of the YPG from Manbij, but no deal has been finalised yet with the US.

A total of 3,747 YPG/PKK and Daesh terrorists have been "neutralised" since the start of Operation Olive Branch in Syria's Afrin region, according to Turkish Armed Forces.

Turkish Army has said efforts are underway to help civilians return home in a secure manner.

Turkish troops have also been continuing efforts to search and destroy hand-made explosives and mines planted by the terrorists in Afrin. 

Source: TRTWorld and agencies