Turkey's Erdogan warns of 'new phase' to extend Ankara's control with fresh offensive

Ankara has been engaged in a military incursion into Syria to push back Kurdish militants of the YPG, which Turkey considers to be a terrorist organisation. Now President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has warned that he wants to extend Ankara’s control with a new offensive into Syria. President Erdoğan told members of the Turkish parliament in June that he was planning a “new phase” of his goal to create a 30km-deep “safe zone” from the Turkish/Syrian border to drive the Kurdish militants out of the area.

Ankara’s particular goal is to target the strategic city of Manbij, a city west of the Euphrates River.

They are also looking at ridding the area Tal Rifaat, a smaller town further to the west.

The Turkish president said: “We will clear Tal Rifaat and Manbij of terrorists.

“We will do the same to other regions step by step.”

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Turkey still offers the remnants of the Syrian opposition military and financial aid.

The dissidents that remain active have fled north to the border region with Turkey.

Turkey trains and pays the salary of more than 50,000 Syrian rebel fighters in the border region.

Ankara has also deployed its own troops inside northern Syria and built military bases on the frontier and an 873km-long border wall.

In the northeast, Kurdish-led militias control more than a fifth of the country, with US support and the effective protection of about 800 American troops.

Ankara’s prime military objective in moving into northern Syria is to weaken the Kurdish militias that are closest to the border with Turkey.

The Kurds played a critical role in the battle against Isis and have managed to carve out their own patchwork of territory in Iraq and Syria.

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