ANKARA - President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says Turkey will "clean" its entire border with Syria as Ankara continues its operation against the Kurdish militants supported by the United States in the Arab country.
Erdogan said in a speech on Sunday that the operation against the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) in northern Syria's Afrin region could be extended.
"Step by step, we will clean our entire border."
The Turkish army said it had captured Jebel Bursaya, a hill that Turkish media had described as a critical position.
The so-called Syrian Observatory for Human Rights confirmed Turkey and its allies had taken the hill, which overlooks the major Syrian town of Azaz. The observatory said Turkish airstrikes had claimed the lives of at least three people in one family on Sunday in Afrin. An ancient temple was also damaged.
The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which is an alliance of militias in northern and eastern Syria and largely dominated by the YPG, had said earlier on Sunday that there was intense fighting in the area. Washington supports the SDF.
Syrian Kurdish officials have pledged to give an "appropriate response" to any more Turkish assaults.
More than a week into the offensive, however, Turkey and its allies have made little progress. The photo shows a Turkish-made T-155 Firtina (Storm) howitzer near Hatay, southern Turkey , on January 28, 2018. (Photo by AFP)
Last week, the Turkish president said his administration might conduct operations eastward inside Syria all the way to Iraq to rid its frontier of the YPG.
Since Turkey 's assault in Afrin began nine days ago, it has sparked tension between Ankara and Washington.
The Turkish Presidency said in a statement on Saturday that the United States had promised for a second time to stop arming the Syria-based Kurdish militants, whom Ankara considers a threat to Turkish security. <link>
Turkey has warned Washington that there could be a confrontation between Turkish and American troops in northern Syria if the arms transfer to the Kurds was not stopped.
Operation Olive Branch in Afrin is Turkey 's second major military intervention in Syria since 2011. The photo, taken on January 28, 2018, shows smoke rising on the Syrian side of the border from Hassa, near Hatay, southern Turkey . (Photo by AFP)
In August 2016, Turkey began a unilateral campaign in northern Syria, code-named Operation Euphrates Shield, sending tanks and warplanes across the border. Ankara claimed that its move was aimed at pushing the Daesh Takfiri terrorists from Turkey 's border with Syria and stopping the advance of Kurdish forces, themselves fighting Daesh.
Turkey ended its campaign in northern Syria in March 2017, but at the time did not rule out the possibility of yet another act of military offensive inside the Arab country.