President Tayyip Erdogan said on Sunday the final goal of a Turkish incursion into Syria was not just to retake the city of al-Bab from Islamic State, but to cleanse a border region including Raqqa of the jihadists.

Turkish-backed Syrian rebels are pressing a major offensive on al-Bab, 30 km (20 miles) south of the Turkish border. The advance risks putting them in direct conflict with Syrian government forces who are closing in on the city from the south.

“The ultimate goal is to cleanse a 5,000-square-km area,” Erdogan told a news conference before his departure on an official visit to Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Qatar. […]