As Turkey's Afrin operation enters its 45th day, the Turkish Armed Forces and the Free Syrian Army have captured several strategic areas as they look towards approaching Afrin centre.

A Turkish-backed Free Syrian Army fighter is seen in Afrin, Syria on March 2, 2018.
A Turkish-backed Free Syrian Army fighter is seen in Afrin, Syria on March 2, 2018. (Reuters)

The Turkish Armed Forces and Free Syrian Army (FSA) on Sunday cleared five more villages from YPG/PKK-Daesh terrorists and took control of Sheikh al Hadid town centre during Operation Olive Branch in Syria's northwestern Afrin region.

The village of Haji Khalil in Rajo, located northwest of Afrin, was cleared of YPG early on Sunday. 

Shaykh al Hadid, located in west of Afrin, has become the third town centre liberated since the launch of the operation. Bulbul and Rajo town centres were previously liberated.

Later on Sunday, four more villages and a mountain were liberated. They include, Bafliun village and its mountain in the Sharan district, Hulilu village in Rajo, Souuldjouk and Araendi villages in Shaykh al Hadid district.

Bafliun village and its mountain are of particular strategic importance as it is a high area that overlooks Sharran region, and may be a key for clearing Afrin centre.

The Turkish military said in a statement that it had 'neuteralised 2,668 YPG/PKK terrorists' since the start of Operation Olive Branch in northwestern Syria's Afrin.

Since February 26, a crescent-shaped corridor, stretching along northwestern Idlib province and Aleppo province's Azaz district has cut terrorists' connection with Turkey's border.

Since the launch of the operation, the Turkish military and the FSA liberated 134 locations including three town centres, 102 villages, 22 strategic mountains and hills and one YPG/PKK base.

The YPG is the Syrian branch of the PKK, which is recognised as a terrorist organisation by Turkey, the US and the EU. 

According to the Turkish General Staff, Operation Olive Branch which was launched on January 20 aims to establish security and stability along Turkey’s borders and the region.

The operation also aims to protect Syrians from terrorist oppression and cruelty, the General Staff has stated. 

The operation is being carried out under the framework of Turkey's rights based on international law, UN Security Council resolutions, its self-defence rights under the UN charter, and respect for Syria's territorial integrity, it has said.

The military also said only terror targets are being destroyed and that "utmost care" is being taken to avoid harming civilians.

Source: AA