Operation Olive Branch has been a great success and motivation in the history of the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK). It has also proven the general opinion that entering the city center would be much more challenging and cause losses was wrong. Nevertheless, the operation in the city center that began on March 18 has shown that this opinion was completely wrong and employed as a method to discourage the TSK and Turkey. The records showing the entrance of the Special Forces and the Free Syria Army (FSA) are clear. The TSK is progressing very effectively without confronting any mass resistance or a strong People's Protection Units (YPG) organization as claimed. The YPG has already left the field.
From now on, the completion of the operation is a matter of detail. Residences will be cleared, traps will be defused and so on. It will last a maximum of one week to completely liberate the city of Afrin. At this point, mines and traps are being removed. According to the information I obtained from those managing the field, there are many mines in the town and it is not yet known what are in the houses. We can say that the operation has been finalized as a 100 percent success, but it is early to say that it is completed since local clashes might still occur. However, the operation has shown that Turkey acquired a strategic upper hand by insisting on its argument despite objections from the U.S. and the Western public.
There are two main reasons why a major resistance has not been faced in the Afrin city center. The first is that the TSK and FSA have caused serious losses to the YPG by gradually weakening them.
The second is that the losses led to enormous panic and fear in the organization. While the TSK was preparing to enter the city, the organization headquarters in the Qandil Mountains ordered the militants to hold their positions, which did not suffice. After seeing the power of the approaching forces and the losses incurred, the militants, including the senior members in Afrin, left their positions and most of the survivors headed to Manbij.
But is must be noted that in Afrin, the TSK found far more ammunition stores and shelters than expected. The amount of equipment captured would be enough for two brigades for six months, which shows that the YPG lied in wait for combat when the operation began.
We must not assume that the locals abandoned the city to the Democratic Union Party (PYD). The city is not completely evacuated. A substantial amount of the locals are in their homes waiting for the completion of the TSK's operation. The information obtained from the city suggests that the operation sees great support from local people.
But why? Afrin is a city where Kurds comprise most of the population. Don't they side with the PYD? In fact, the PYD had imposed fascist and tyrannical rule in the city, which gave no right to live for those who did not obey them and forcibly sent young people into combat with the YPG. Locals were fed up with the organization due to that, whereas notable people in Afrin left the city. From now on, they will start returning gradually. The disappearance of this tyrannical order will bring great relief to the city.
Meanwhile, the first steps of restructuring efforts have already been taken. A few days ago, the Afrin Liberation Congress convened in Turkey's southeastern province of Gaziantep in which 100 notable people in exile from Afrin elected the local council. The work will start in the city soon.
Now we will see two simultaneous efforts – rebuilding the destruction in Afrin as we have seen in al-Bab, and Turkey's new moves against the YPG threat. As President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan often says, the focus now must be on PKK targets in Sinjar and the YPG in Manbij.