Turkey to target town of Tal Rifaat in Syria operation: Erdogan 


Istanbul (AFP)

Turkey on Sunday said the northern Syrian town of Tal Rifaat would be the next target of its cross-border campaign after the capture of Afrin from Syrian Kurdish militia.

"God willing, we will ensure this operation achieves its goal after taking control of Tal Rifaat in a short period of time," President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in the Black Sea city of Trabzon.

On January 20, Ankara launched an air and ground offensive in the enclave of Afrin in Syria to root out the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) there, which Turkey brands a terrorist group, but which is seen by the United States as a key player in the fight against Islamic State jihadists.

On March 18, Turkish forces and their rebel allies took full control of Afrin, with the YPG largely withdrawing without a fight.

Afrin's capture is seen a major step forwards for Turkey as it seeks to bolster control along its border in northern Syria.

Erdogan has repeatedly suggested that the Turkish campaign in Syria could now extend up to Qamishli -- the most easterly Syrian town held by the YPG before the Iraqi border.