From Voice of America:
A defiant Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned Friday that he’s prepared to risk confrontation with the United States over Turkey’s military incursion into northern Syria, vowing to next target a Kurdish-held town where U.S. Special Forces are stationed.
Speaking to members of his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) in Ankara, a belligerent Erdogan shrugged off U.S. calls for Turkey to limit the incursion launched a week ago, saying the next town to be targeted after the Kurdish enclave of Afrin, where Turkish tanks have been grinding through winter mud, will be Manbij, raising the possibility of American troops being drawn inadvertently into the bruising fight between Turks and Syrian Kurds.
The Reuters news agency reports that Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Saturday the United States needs to withdraw from northern Syria's Manbij region immediately, suggesting that an attack might be imminent.
On Wednesday, U.S. President Donald Trump expressed concerns in a phone call with Erdogan about the Turkish offensive aimed at ousting Kurdish militiamen the U.S. sees as allies in the battle against the Islamic State terror group. Trump urged him to limit the incursion and to avoid civilian casualties. The U.S. president, though, acknowledged Turkey's legitimate security concerns, according to Turkish officials, who say that Trump asked Erdogan “not to criticize the U.S.”
But speaking to AKP members, Erdogan outlined a far more expansive operation than he’s committed to before, indicating his readiness to order Turkish forces, along with thousands of allied Syrian rebels, remnants of the Free Syrian Army that led the fight against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, to drive right across northern Syria all the way to Iraq.
That would mean attacking east of the Euphrates River the Kurdish stronghold of Rojava, which Syrian Kurds hope one day will become their own independent state. It would mark a dramatic escalation of Turkey’s offensive - as well as adding a massive complication in the already complex Syrian conflict.
“We will rid Manbij of terrorists, as was promised before. Our battles will continue until no terrorist is left right up to our border with Iraq,” Erdogan said....MORE