UPDATE - Erdogan: Ground operation in Syria's Afrin begins

UPDATE - Erdogan: Ground operation in Syria's Afrin begins

Operation in Syria's Manbij to come next, Turkish president says


By Satuk Bugra Kutlugun

ANKARA (AA) - A ground operation in Syria's Afrin has "actively" begun, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Saturday.

Addressing the ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party's sixth annual provincial congress in western city of Kutahya, Erdogan said an operation in Manbij in Syria will come after Afrin because "promises made to Turkey have not been kept."

The president made it clear that just changing names of terror groups would not satisfy Turkey.

"The PKK, YPG, PYD are all the same; changing names does not change the fact that they are terror organizations," he said.

"They are playing games in Syria in their own way, by changing the terror organization's name.

"Who are you kidding? This same organization's name is PKK, PYD, YPG."

He criticized the United States for working with the PKK, an organization which is in the terrorist list of the U.S. and the European Union.

"They know it really well. They are trying their best to deceive Turkey and the world."

Erdogan also said Turkey will "clear terrorism that tries to encircle the country up to Iraqi border".

- Threat to national security

"I would like to underline one thing clearly," Erdogan said.

"We do not have any negative thoughts on Syria's territorial integrity and its independent, prosperous future.

"On the contrary, we are taking these steps to ensure our own national security, as well as of our 13 million Syrian brothers' and sisters'-- who are displaced -- [their] security, peace and future."

Also on Saturday, Turkish security forces hit several PYD/PKK targets in the besieged Syrian border town of Afrin in order to prevent a "terror corridor" from forming along Turkey's borders.

Turkish army launched at least 15 rounds of artillery fire, targeting the terror nests of the terror organization in Afrin.

Turkish military units were already deployed in Afrin, a district of Aleppo near the Turkish-Syria border, which is under siege by the PYD/PKK terrorist organization.

The PYD/PKK is the Syrian offshoot of the PKK terrorist group, which has been designated a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the EU.

Since the mid-1980s, the PKK has waged a wide-ranging terror campaign against the Turkish state in which an estimated 40,000 people have been killed.

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