Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan reiterates Turkey's firm determination to clear the YPG from its border and says the Turkish military will continue the process until it entirely eliminates the YPG-held corridor.

President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan delivers a speech during the draw ceremony for judges and public prosecutors at Bestepe Culture and Congress Center of the Presidential Complex in Ankara, Turkey on March 19, 2018.
President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan delivers a speech during the draw ceremony for judges and public prosecutors at Bestepe Culture and Congress Center of the Presidential Complex in Ankara, Turkey on March 19, 2018. (AA)

Turkey's military operations in Syria will continue further east until several towns stretching hundreds of kilometres towards the Iraqi border have been cleared of the PKK-affiliated YPG terror group, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Monday.

Speaking at the Bestepe Culture and Congress Center in the presidential complex in capital Ankara a day after the Turkish military and Free Syrian Army cleared the northwestern Syrian town of Afrin, Erdogan said Turkey would also clear the other YPG-held regions.

"We have eliminated most of the terror corridor in the region. Now we will continue this process until we entirely eliminate this corridor, including Manbij, Qamislo, Ayn al Arab and Rasulayn," he said.

Manbij, the next main YPG-held town east of Afrin is a particular flashpoint as there is a US military presence there.

TRT World 's Ahmed al Burai explains how that move might be seen by the United States.

Military operation in Iraq

Erdogan also hinted at another operation against the PKK in the Iraqi city of Sinjar if Baghdad does not clear the region of them.

“We can suddenly come over one night in Iraq's Sinjar and eliminate PKK terrorists there,” the president said.

In mid-2014, the PKK managed to establish a foothold in Sinjar on the pretext that it was “protecting” the local Ezidi community from the Daesh.

The YPG is the Syrian branch of the PKK, which is responsible for over 40,000 deaths, and has carried out a violent campaign against Turkey for more than 30 years.

The PKK has been listed as a terrorist organisation by Turkey, the US and the European Union.

But Washington has been supporting and arming the group under the pretext of fighting Daesh.

On January 20, Turkey launched Operation Olive Branch on to clear the YPG/PKK and Daesh from Afrin in northwestern Syria amid growing threats posed from the region.

On Sunday, Turkish-backed troops cleared the town of Afrin, which had been a major hideout for the YPG/PKK since 2012.

"Turkey has no intention of being occupiers in the region, only wanted to remove the threat posed by the terrorists," Erdogan added.

EU aid for refugees 

During his speech, Erdogan also accused the European Union (EU) of breaking refugee aid promises, saying that he will ask the bloc about the second tranche of $3.70 billion (€3 billion) for Syrian refugees during a summit in Bulgaria next week.

EU-Turkey summit set for March 26 in Varna, Bulgaria is bringing together EU leaders and the Turkish president.

The president said the bloc was discussing the remaining $3.70 billion but his country had not received all of the first promised amount even two years after the migration deal.

"The promises have not been kept. They said they would allocate 3 billion euros plus another 3 billion euros of assistance, but so far 850 million euros have reached our safe,” Erdogan said.

Last week, the European Union Commission offered an additional $3.70 billion for Syrian refugees in Turkey as part of a 2016 deal.

European Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs, and Citizenship Dimitris Avramopoulos had told that the bloc was due to move the second tranche of $3.70 billion for projects supporting Syrian refugees in Turkey.

In 2016, Turkey and the EU signed a deal aiming to stem the irregular migration flow through the Aegean Sea by taking stricter measures against human traffickers and improving conditions for nearly 3 million Syrian refugees in Turkey.

The deal also allows for the acceleration of Turkey’s EU membership bid and visa-free travel for Turkish nationals within the Schengen area, on the condition that Ankara meets all 72 requirements set by the EU.

Turkey has long complained of the EU being slow to deliver the promised funds for refugees and failing to uphold its end of the deal concerning visa-free travel.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies