Turkey will return Manbij to its rightful owners: Erdogan

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan delivers a speech during the Culture and Art Awards Ceremony at Presidential Complex in Ankara, Turkey on December 21, 2017. ( AA )

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says Operation Olive Branch in Afrin in northwestern Syria will extend to Idlib.

Turkey’s president said on Tuesday that the current military operation in northern Syria will extend from Afrin to Idlib.

“The operation in Afrin will resolutely continue, and an Idlib operation will follow it,” Recep Tayyip Erdogan told the parliamentary group meeting of his ruling Justice and Development Party.

Turkey launched Operation Olive Branch in Afrin in January to clear the border region of YPG/PKK and create a buffer zone. Ankara has long objected to US support for the YPG which it considers to be the Syrian branch of the PKK, a group which has taken thousands of lives in Turkey.

Over the issue of when the operation would end, Erdogan referred to years-long US and NATO missions in the region, said: “When have you ended your operations in Afghanistan or Iraq? You’re still there.”

Erdogan also criticised the US stance, saying former president Barack Obama had spoken untruthfully on Syria. Incumbent US President Donald Trump “is the same way.”

The Turkish president said the US promised Turkey it would leave Syria’s Manbij region, but instead, it helped terrorists there.

Cooperate with Turkey

Erdogan called on the US to cooperate with its NATO ally Turkey in the region. “Our fight is just against terrorist groups.”

“They tell us, ‘Don’t come to Manbij.’ We will come to Manbij to hand over these territories to their rightful owners,” Erdogan said.

“The US says that they have cleared Daesh” from Syria, said Erdogan. “Why are you still here?” he asked the US.

Source: AA