Turkey to carry out military operation in Syria’s Afrin: Turkish DM

A Turkish tank arrives at an army base near the Turkish-Syrian border in Hatay Province, Turkey, Jan. 18, 2018. Turkish army dispatched tanks and armored vehicles to its southern border province Hatay on Thursday as preparation of a possible military action into Syria's Afrin, state-run Anadolu Agency reported. (Xinhua)

Turkey will carry out a military operation in Syria‘s northern border region of Afrin to “remove the terrorist presence” there, Turkish Defense Minister Nurettin Canikli said Friday.

Speaking on local news channel A Haber, Canikli said “it will happen,” referring to the upcoming military operation against the People’s Protection Units (YPG), which is considered as the Syrian affiliates of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) by Ankara.

The defense minister did not give any details of timing.

“The threat level against Turkey is increasing day by day,” Canikli noted.

Turkey has all the information available regarding the number of YPG militants, their weapons systems and their locations, and is capable of blocking the group’s defense systems, he added.

According to the minister, Russia has told Turkey that it will withdraw its military assets from the region and talks between the two countries continue regarding the imminent operation.

Commenting on the U.S. recent statement on the Afrin operation, Canikli called them “nonsense,” adding that it is “tactical” in nature, and aims to create confusion while employing psychological warfare.

On Thursday, U.S. State Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert urged Turkey to refrain from violence in Afrin, calling on Ankara to remain focused on the fight against the Islamic State(IS).