Erdogan vows to press Syria offensive to key Kurdish-held towns

Syrian Kurdish-led forces move from IS fronts to Afrin Turkey objects

Erdogan vows to press Syria offensive to key Kurdish-held towns

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.

MERSIN, Turkey:Turkish and Free Syrian Army forces have so far liberated 850 square kilometers (328 square miles) during the Turkish-led counter-terrorist operation in Afrin, Syria, Turkey's president said on Saturday.

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

"Once we have purged the terrorists (from Afrin) we will then cleanse them from Manbij, Ayn al-Arab, Tel-Abyad, Ras al-Ayn and Qamishli", he said in televised comments. We will be in Manbij tomorrow.

The operation "Olive Branch" was launched on January 20 to clear PYD/PKK and IS terrorists from Afrin in northwestern Syria, Anadolu news agency reported.

Tensions between the United States and Turkey has escalated as a result of the operation, with Ankara accusing Washington of leaving pockets of Daesh militants in Syria intact to justify continued cooperation with Kurdish forces in the country.

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He added that Turkey is resolute in the fight against terrorism.

The word "neutralised" is used to imply that the terrorists in question either surrendered or were killed or captured.

Qamishli is seen as the main town of the YPG-controlled region.

Turkish air forces regularly strike weapon depots and hideouts used by PKK in northern Iraq, where the group uses as a base for years.

Turkish state media said Turkey's advance continued on Friday, with the forces now on the edge of the Afrin municipal district.

The military also said only terror targets were being destroyed and "utmost care" was being taken to not harm civilians.

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