Badran Ciya Kurd, an adviser to the Kurdish administration in northern Syria who meets regularly with Russian and U.S. officials, told The Associated Press Sunday that Russian officials suggested that handing over the enclave, encircled by Syrian government and its rival Turkey and Syrian fighters it backs, would avert the Turkish offensive.
It marked the second day of fighting after Ankara opened a new front in the almost seven-year-old Syrian war.
His warnings came a day after Turkey launched an operation with Syrian rebels to oust the Syrian Kurdish Peoples' Protection Units (YPG) militia from Afrin.
Turkey is targeting the USA -backed fighters at a time when ties with ally Washington appear close to breaking point.
Ankara views the YPG and its Democratic Union Party (PYD) political wing as branches of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) which has waged an insurgency inside Turkey since 1984.
But the YPG has been the key ally of Turkey's fellow North Atlantic Treaty Organisation member the United States in the fight against IS jihadists, playing a key role in pushing the extremists out of their Syrian strongholds.
"The operation in Afrin has effectively started and will be followed by Manbij", Mr Erdogan said, referring to another Kurdish stronghold on the western bank of the Euphrates River where some U.S. troops are deployed alongside Kurdish forces.
Turkey, which is backing the Free Syrian Army rebel factions in northern Syria, wants to create a 30-km (19 mile) "safe zone" in the region, broadcaster HaberTurk quoted the prime minister, Binali Yildirim, as saying.
Turkish troops were advancing alongside forces from the Ankara-backed rebel Free Syrian Army (FSA) and were already five kilometres (three miles) inside Syria, state media said.
But a YPG spokesman claimed Turkish forces seeking to enter Afrin had been "blocked" and that it had hit two Turkish tanks.
Turkish Defence Minister Nurettin Canikli said Friday that the operation had "de-facto begun" because of the shelling but confirmed that Turkish troops had not yet crossed over into Syria.
"So far, 153 targets, which were used as shelters, hideouts and ammunition depots by terrorist organizations PKK/KCK/PYD-YPG and Daesh, have been targeted", said Turkish General Staff in a fresh statement. Ankara denied any civilian casualties, with Cavusoglu accusing the YPG of sending out "nonsense propaganda and baseless lies".
Turkish warplanes struck Kurdish observation posts and many other targets, Anadolu reported, while its ground forces launched at least 15 rounds of artillery.
Rockets fired across the border from Syria hit the Turkish town of Reyhanli, killing a Syrian national and wounding 46 people, the local governor's office said.
There were no signs of conflict in the town itself, where life appeared to continue as normal with uniformed rebel police at the main roundabouts. Still, Azaz was bleak and the toll from the war was plainly seen in some of its crumbling buildings. At a auto fix workshop on the outskirts of the town some men were fixing a gun-loaded vehicle. A Turkish operation there could have an impact on USA operations further east in Syria, the officials said.
"No matter what they say, we don't care anymore because we look at what is happening in the field".
Footage released on Sunday showed Turkish military convoys on the Syrian border.
Earlier this month, the Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper reported that the USA is planning steps toward providing a Syrian Democratic Forces-controlled area in northern Syria's eastern Euphrates area three times the size of Lebanon with diplomatic recognition.