2nd Phase of Afrin Operation Begins #OperationOliveBranch
Turkish soldiers and Free Syrian Army (FSA) fighters, backed by special forces teams of Turkish national police and gendarmerie units, launched the second phase of Operation Olive Branch in northwestern Syria’s Afrin on Friday, with heavy clashes taking place around and inside Raju town center.
At least 2,295 terrorists have been “neutralized” in the operation since it was launched on Jan. 20, the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) said in a statement Friday.
The TSK uses the term “neutralized” in reference to terrorists captured dead or alive, or those who surrendered during the operations. However, the term is usually used for the terrorists who were killed in the operations.
The announcement comes after military sources confirmed that nine People’s Protection Units (YPG) terrorists were killed in northern Afrin, after Turkish T129 Advanced Attack and Tactical Reconnaissance Helicopters (ATAK) targeted previously identified locations.
During clashes on Thursday, eight Turkish soldiers were killed in action by YPG terrorists and 13 others were injured.
The Ministry of Defense said in a statement Friday that 41 Turkish soldiers and 116 Free Syrian Army fighters have been killed in action during the operation.
Operation Olive Branch was launched by Turkey on Jan. 20 to remove the PKK/PYD/YPG/KCK and Daesh terrorists from Afrin in northwestern Syria.
According to the Turkish General Staff, the operation aims to establish security and stability along Turkish borders and in the region as well as to protect Syrian people from the oppression and cruelty of terrorists.
The operation is being carried out under the framework of Turkey’s rights within international law, U.N. Security Council resolutions, its right to self-defense under the U.N. charter and respect for Syria’s territorial integrity, it said.
The military also said, “utmost importance” is being placed on not harming any civilians.
The operation in Afrin – bordering Turkey’s Hatay and Kilis provinces – was widely expected in the wake of Turkey’s Operation Euphrates Shield in northern Syria, which 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 to the terror group without putting up a fight.