Turkey intends to expand its military operation against the Kurdish militarized groups known as the People’s Protection Units (YPG) along Turkey’s entire border with Syria, said Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Friday January 26, DW reports.
“Operation Olive Branch will continue, until all the set objectives have been achieved,” the president said, emphasizing that the Turkish forces would “liberate” the city of Manbij from “terrorists”, as well as all the other territory along the Syrian-Turkish border.
Syria and Turkey share 900 kilometers of border. Most of the Syrian side is controlled by Kurdish armed groups. The territories controlled by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad are further south.
Kurds from Afrin asked al-Assad for military aid. The Syrian president condemned Turkey’s aggression, but did not enter into open military conflict with Ankara.
Civilians still remain in Afrin. According to the UN, at least 5,000 people have taken refuge in the surrounding villages. Thousands more have left for the Syrian city of Aleppo.
According to UN Spokesperson Stephane Dujarric, humanitarian organizations are worried about the condition of the civilian population in the city of 320,000 that the Turkish army is approaching.
Turkey began its ground offensive in northern Syria on January 20.