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Turkey ready to 'destroy' Kurdish militia in Syria

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Turkey has prepared its military for a fresh operation in northern Syria to "destroy" the US-backed Kurdish militia that Ankara considers to be a terrorist group, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said, reported The New Arab (UK).

The Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) holds territory east of the Euphrates River it reclaimed from the Islamic State, where Turkey has repeatedly threatened to launch a fresh offensive.

"We are going to destroy the terrorist structure in the east of the Euphrates. We have completed our preparations, plans, programmes regarding this issue," Erdogan told lawmakers from his ruling party in parliament.

Erdogan appeared to indirectly confirm Turkish state media reports that the Turkish military fired artillery shells at YPG positions east of the Euphrates in the Kobane region of northern Syria. The YPG has held the area since 2015.

"In fact, in the past few days, we have begun real interventions against the terror organisation," Erdogan said, without giving further details.

"We are going to breathe down the necks of the terror organisation with comprehensive and effective operations soon. As I have always said, we can come suddenly one night."

Erdogan has previously made similar threats and on Friday gave the YPG a "final warning".

While the YPG has worked closely with Washington against the Islamic State group in Syria, causing tension between NATO allies Turkey and the US, Ankara says the militia is a "terrorist offshoot" of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).

The PKK has waged an insurgency against the Turkish state since 1984 and is blacklisted as a terror group by Turkey, the United States and the European Union.

The YPG holds swathes of territory in northern and north-eastern Syria.

Earlier this year, Turkish military forces backed Syrian opposition fighters to retake the western Afrin region from the YPG during a two-month air and ground offensive.

Ankara previously launched an offensive between 2016 and 2017 against IS on its border with Syria and to stop areas under YPG control from joining.

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Tags: syria, turkey, Kurds

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Reporter: Denes Osvalt
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Category: Politics
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