ISTANBUL: Turkey's campaign to oust Kurdish militia from their enclave of Afrin in northern Syria could be expanded to include the town of Manbij and even areas east of the Euphrates River, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Tuesday.
Turkey on Saturday launched operation "Olive Branch" aimed at rooting out the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) militia, which Ankara sees as a terror group, from its Afrin enclave in northern Syria.
Turkey steps up assault on Kurdish militia in Syria
But analysts say a crucial question will be whether Turkey limits the campaign to the Afrin region or extends it to the YPG held-town of Manbij or other areas to the east.
Afrin is an enclave of YPG control, cut off from the longer strip of northern Syria that the group controls to the east, extending to the Iraqi border and which has a US military presence.
"This operation is targeting Afrin region but the threats are also coming from Manbij," Cavusoglu told France 24 television in an interview during a visit to Paris, accusing the YPG of firing on Turkey from the area.
"We, as Turkey, have to eliminate (threats) where ever there are threats.
"For now Afrin is the target but in the future we might also start an operation in Manbij and also in the eastern part of the Euphrates," he said.
Asked if this might trouble the United States, he replied: "I don't have to agree with anyone else. Our obligation is to eliminate any threat targeting Turkey."
Erdogan warns of 'heavy price' for protests against Syria operation
The campaign has caused ripples of concern among Turkey's NATO allies, especially the United States which is still working closely with the YPG to defeat Islamic State (IS) jihadists in Syria.
President Donald Trump is expected to express American unease over a Turkish cross-border offensive into Syria, in a call scheduled with counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan, US officials said Tuesday.
"This current operation is targeting Afrin region. But in the future, if the threat continues to come from other regions, we might also eliminate terrorist groups in other parts as well," Cavusoglu added.
Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.
For more information, please see our Comments FAQ