Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan claimed Syria was "running a psychological operation in Manbij" following Damascus' announcement that its troops had entered the northern Syrian city for the first time in several years. Erdogan was speaking in Istanbul on Friday.

"We know that Syria is running a psychological operation in Manbij. We know that there is a case that they wave their flag there but there is no certainty," he stated.

The Turkish leader also said his country was determined to "destroy" Kurdish militants in Syria's Manbij. His threat comes after Turkey had earlier said it would carry out an assault on the city to dislodge Kurdish YPG fighters.

"We need to handle these issues seriously. The issue is not just Manbij. The issue is to destroy those terrorist organisations in Manbij. Our main aim here is to make YPG learn the necessary lessons. We are determined to achieve this," the Turkish leader stated.

Erdogan also said that a Turkish delegation will hold discussions with their Russian counterparts over the weekend. He added that he might get in touch with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The SAA announced earlier on Friday that government troops had entered the northern city of Manbij, close to the border with Turkey, following a request from the Kurdish YPG for it to protect the location.

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Sky News 24 Mar 2019 17:16 CET