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    Turkey will carry out military operation in Syria’s Afrin: Defense minister

    Turkey will carry out a military operation into Afrin in northern Syria, Defense Minister Nurettin Canikli vowed in an interview with broadcaster A Haber on the morning of Jan. 19.
    “The threat level against Turkey is increasing day by day. This operation will be carried out and we will combat terrorism,” Canikli said, referring to a long-anticipated operation against the People’s Protection Units (YPG) in Afrin, seen by Ankara as organically linked to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
    The Afrin operation should be carried out without delay and that Ankara and Moscow would continue talks about Turkey’s planned military action, he said. 
    The U.S. State Department on Jan. 18 urged Turkey not to take any action in northern Syria, calling on Ankara to remain focused on the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
    At a news briefing, U.S. State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said the U.S. wanted Turkey to abstain from violence in the northwestern city of Afrin.
    “We would call […] on the Turks to not take any actions of that sort,” Nauert said.
    The Syrian government on Jan. 18 warned Turkey against launching a military operation in the northwestern region of Afrin, vowing that Syrian air defenses stood ready to defend against such an “act of aggression.”
    “We warn the Turkish leadership that if they initiate combat operations in the Afrin area, that will be considered an act of aggression by the Turkish army,” Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Meqdad said in comments reported by state media.
    Syrian forces stand ready to take out any Turkish targets within the Syrian airfield, SANA reported, citing the deputy minister.
    “Syria will confront any Turkish aggression or military action against its territory with appropriate response,” Meqdad told reporters in a press briefing.

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