En­cir­clement of Afrin im­mi­nent, Er­doğan says

Daily Sabah (Turkey) - - Politics -

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.

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