Turkey, Free Syrian Army clear 4 villages in Afrin

Turkey, Free Syrian Army clear 4 villages in Afrin

Meanwhile, Turkish forces have reached the outskirts of the city of Afrin, the so-called Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Saturday.

The Turkish armed forces will clear the territory from the eastern bank of the Euphrates in Syria up to the border with Iraq of terrorists, after it does the same in Afrin and Manbij cities, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Friday.

The YPG Spokesperson dismissed Turkey's threats and stated that the Kurdish forces "are always prepared and ready to defend Afrin and surrounding regions".

Turkish forces took over the town of Jindires in southern Afrin on Thursday, removing a major obstacle on the road to Afrin's largest urban center.

Cavusoglu said the operation could begin after Iraq's parliamentary elections scheduled for May 2018, signalling that Turkish forces may move to northern Iraq following the ongoing operations in northern Syria.

The assault on Afrin is part of Operation Olive Branch, a Turkish military offensive to oust Kurdish fighters in northwestern Syria.

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

Erdogan reiterated Turkey's resolve to advance to Manbij - a region east of Afrin, where the US has a military presence - and other Syrian Kurdish held locations east of the Euphrates river, once the offensive on the enclave is completed.

Turkey sees the YPG as a "terrorist" group.

Turkey launched the operation on January 20 to clear the People's Protection Units (YPG), which Ankara considers a terror group affiliated to the PKK, from northwestern Syria.

The PKK has waged a decades-long armed fight against the Turkish state that has killed tens of thousands of people.

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

Nauert added that, "This is an introductory meeting where we can start to hopefully work out some of these issues".

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