Encirclement of Afrin imminent, Erdoğan says
THE town center of northwestern Syria’s Afrin, currently occupied by the PKK-linked People’s Protection Units (YPG), may likely be fully encircled by Wednesday evening, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said yesterday.
The president also noted that the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) and the Free Syrian Army (FSA) were showing utmost care to prevent any civilian casualties.
He said that a total of 3,500 terrorists have been killed and around 1,300 square kilometer has been cleared of YPG/PKK elements, as of day 54 of Operation Olive Branch.
Meanwhile, According to Anadolu Agency correspondents in the field, the villages of Goz, Kafr Dali al Fawqani, Ma’arratah and Shadir in Afrin, the Julakan and Kuran villages in Jinderes district, Kuri Kul in Bulbul district, a hill and the village of Satyan in Mabatli district were cleared of YPG/PKK-Daesh terror- ists. Since the launch of Operation Olive Branch, the Turkish military and FSA have liberated a total of 229 locations, including five urban centers, 190 villages, 39 strategic mountains and hills, and one YPG/PKK base.
The operation is being carried out under a framework of Turkey’s rights to act in self-defense based on international law, U.N. Security Council resolutions, and the U.N. charter while showing respect for Syria’s territorial integrity.
The operation in Afrin, which borders Turkey’s Hatay and Kilis, was long expected after Turkey’s Operation Euphrates Shield in northern Syria cleared Daesh terrorists from Turkey’s border between Aug. 24, 2016, and March 2017.
Afrin has been a major hideout for the YPG/PKK since July 2012, when the Assad regime in Syria left the city under the terror group’s control without any confrontation.