Turkish Armed Forces say 153 targets, including shelters, hideouts and ammunition depots used by YPG/PKK and other terror groups, have been destroyed in Operation Olive Branch in Syria's Afrin.

Turkish armoured vehicles move towards Hassa district of Hatay, Turkey, as part of the Operation Olive Branch.
Turkish armoured vehicles move towards Hassa district of Hatay, Turkey, as part of the Operation Olive Branch. ( AA )

Turkish forces and Free Syrian Army (FSA) fighters launched a comprehensive ground operation against YPG/PKK in Syria's Afrin on Sunday.

The fighters entered Afrin as part of Turkey's "Operation Olive Branch" which started on Saturday. The Turkish military says its offensive aims to rid the region of YPG and PKK.

"So far, 153 targets, which were used as shelters, hideouts and ammunition depots by terrorist organisations PKK/KCK/PYD-YPG and Daesh, have been targeted," said Turkish General Staff in a statement on Sunday. 

The YPG is backed by the US in the war against Daesh in Syria. Turkey considers the YPG a terror organisation because of its affiliation to PKK in southeastern Turkey. Since the mid-1980s, the PKK has waged attacks against the Turkish state in which an estimated 40,000 people have been killed. 

Around 25,000 FSA fighters are joining the Turkish military operation in northern Syria with the goal of recapturing Arab towns and villages under YPG control since February 2016, an FSA commander said on Sunday.

Major Yasser Abdul Rahim, who is also the commander of Failaq al Sham, a major FSA faction, said the forces do not seek to enter the city of Afrin but encircle it and expel the YPG, which controls it.

TRT World's Alican Ayanlar explains why the Turkish military launched an operation in Syria's Afrin.

"Operation Olive Branch continues as planned," the General Staff said on the second day of the operation.

The operation is being carried out under the framework of Turkey’s rights, based on international law, and no civilian or innocent person would be harmed, the military added.

Why Afrin?

Afrin has been a major hideout for the YPG/PKK since July 2012 when the Bashar al Assad regime in Syria left the city to the terror group without putting up a fight. 

The Turkish cities of Kilis and Hatay across the Syrian border are within the firing range from Afrin, which sits atop a hill. The terror groups have also used Amanos Mountains to penetrate from Syria into Turkey.

The YPG/PKK depends on Afrin to connect to the Mediterranean from northwestern Syria. A quarter of Syrian land and 65 percent of Turkey-Syria border are under the occupation of YPG.

Meanwhile, the Commander of US Central Command (CENTCOM) said on Saturday that Turkey informed the US-led coalition about its operation in Afrin.

The coalition did not take part because it does not recognise Afrin as an operational area, General Joseph L Votel said.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies