Turkish nationalist says Afrin to be cleared despite U.S.

The leader of a Turkish far-right nationalist party said the Syrian district of Afrin would be cleared of what he called terrorists regardless of the United States, which has called for Turkey to show restraint in its month-old offensive against the Kurdish-held area.

"Turkish soldiers will enter Afrin, and our flag ... will go up on a flagpole towards the height it deserves," Devlet Bahçeli told his parliamentary party. "Whatever they do, whatever tricks they play, Afrin will definitely be cleared of terrorists," he said, referring to the United States.

Bahçeli’s Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) has entered an alliance with the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) as President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan looks to shore up support ahead of presidential elections due by November next year.

Bahçeli said Syrian President Bashar Assad would “suffer the consequences” if his troops entered Afrin in support of Kurdish forces there. Though the United States does not have any troops in Afrin, U.S. forces have backed Syrian Kurdish fighters elsewhere in Syria against the remnants of Islamic State.

Turkey respects Syria’s territorial integrity, Bahçeli said, and it was “just delirium and madness” to accuse Turkish troops of attempting to occupy Afrin.