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Erdogan promises to extend Turkey's war in Syria at election rally

TURKISH President Recep Tayyip Erdogan pledged to extend the war in Syria at an Istanbul election rally yesterday, promising new missions in the country.

Mr Erdogan told supporters that Turkey’s army was ready for new operations in Syria as he laid out his manifesto for snap elections next month.

The increasingly dictatorial president launched the so-called Operation Olive Branch offensive in January in an operation aimed at dealing with “terrorist organisations” on Turkey’s border with Syria.

But the mission was branded an illegal invasion of a non-aggressive sovereign territory, with accusations of chemical attacks and beheadings as Mr Erdogan’s army allied with jihadist elements to attack the mainly Kurdish city of Afrin.

Turkey took full control of Afrin in March, forcing an estimated 170,000 people to flee the area, with many living in refugee camps across northern Syria.

Mr Erdogan has a long-harboured desire to wipe out Kurds from the region and told supporters he was ready to extend the current military operation to Manbij and Idlib.

“We will not give up on constricting terrorist organisations,” he said. “We will add to the Euphrates Shield and Olive Branch operations. Our soldiers are ready for new missions."

It is not the first time Mr Erdogan has threatened to invade Manbij — he pledged to push further east after taking Afrin in March.

Manbij Military Council Commander Ebu Adil said his forces had made the necessary preparations and were “poised to defend our city to the bitter end in the event of an attack.”

The US recently expanded its presence in Manbij, deploying additional special forces and developing a new military base on the front line.

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