Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday that Ankara will lay siege to Afrin in northern Syria, a month after Ankara launched an offensive against Kurdish militia in the region.
“In the coming days, swiftly, we will lay siege to the centre of the town of Afrin,” Erdogan told parliament.
His remarks came as Turkey’s so-called “Olive Branch”, a ground and air offensive against the People’s Protection Units (YPG) militia which Ankara brands “terrorists”, entered its second month.
While some analysts say Turkey and pro-Ankara Syrian militants have made slow advances, Erdogan defended the operation’s progress, saying it was to avoid putting the lives of both its troops and civilians needlessly “at risk”.
“We did not go there to burn it down,” he said, insisting the operation’s aim was to “create a safe and livable area” for the Syrian refugees inside Turkey, who fled across the border since the conflict began in 2011 and who now number more than three million.