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Erdogan declares assault on Syria's Kurds will begin ‘in a few days’

TURKISH President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned today that his armies would begin another assault on Syria’s Kurds “within a few days.”

Mr Erdogan said the main target of the attack would be the People’s Protection Units (YPG), the Kurdish-led militia that played a key role in defending parts of northern Syria from the Isis terror group.

Turkey regards the YPG as an offshoot of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and labels both terrorist organisations. The PKK has long battled the Turkish state in Kurdish areas of Turkey, pointing to Ankara’s denial of national rights and often brutal measures aimed at crushing Kurdish identity.

Turkey’s periodic assaults on the YPG in Syria bring it into confrontation with its Nato ally the United States, which has assisted the Kurdish group against Isis and sees it as a useful obstacle to Syrian reunification under President Bashar al-Assad, though Kurdish and Syrian government forces are not in direct conflict and have co-operated against jihadist rebels.

Mr Erdogan insisted: “Our target is not the American soldiers, it is the terrorist organisations that are active [east of the Euphrates].

But he added: “We know that the radar and observation posts set up by the US are not to protect Turkey from terrorists but to protect terrorists from Turkey.”

Ankara is demanding a “political solution” to the conflict on its terms and has proposed joint US and Turkish occupation of northern Syria, outraging the Damascus government.

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