On Monday, it was announced that a new phase is being initiated in Operation Olive Branch, which was launched by the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) and the Free Syria Army (FSA) to eradicate terrorist groups in Afrin.
In a statement, the Turkish General Staff said the Afrin city center was encircled as of March 12. So far, more than 210 residential areas have been purged from terrorists while the secure zone that the refugees can safely return to has reached 1,102 square kilometers.
The operation that Turkey has been maintaining in Afrin has two main purposes. The first one is waging total war against terrorism and eradicating every single terrorist in the region. When this is accomplished, the border towns and villages of Turkey will be liberated from terror threats, and the locals of Afrin will not have to abandon their homes.
In the villages and towns that have been recaptured from terrorists, people are trying to get back to their daily lives. The villagers, who could not even plough their own fields, can now freely continue their activities.
With Operation Olive Branch, Turkey is actually showing the world that a counterterror fight is the most accurate refugee policy. It is a widely known fact that many refugees across the world are forced to leave their countries due to terrorism, which is the exact case in Syria.
The militants of the PKK terror group, its Syrian offshoot the Democratic Union Party (PYD) and its armed People's Protection Units (YPG) have occupied Afrin and targeted all the local population in the city, including the Kurds who resist terrorism.
Arabs, Turkmens and Kurds have been tormented by these terror groups. Most of them have been murdered while the others were forced to leave their homeland. These days, they have started returning to their homes as Turkey recaptured the lands seized by terrorists and rendered the militants ineffective. The suitable conditions have been provided for their return as Turkey has ensured the security of the locals. The infrastructural works that are required to get back to normal life in villages and towns have also kicked off.
This is the main purpose of Turkey: Enabling the locals of Afrin to safely return to their homes after the region is ousted of terrorists. Turkey does not intend to stay on Syrian territory as the country defends the territorial integrity of Syria and wishes that the Syrians will regain a democratic environment.
Despite all these facts, the EU's public is being deceived with some baseless news while PKK militants can freely engage in terror propaganda across Europe. They are trying to shape the EU's public opinion with old photos of wounded civilians from Afghanistan or Syria.
But the reality is quite the opposite.
Although the TSK and FSA have provided a corridor in Afrin for the civilians to get out of the city, the terrorists who captured the city center are not allowing them to do so. The PKK, YPG and PYD are not letting any civilian leave so they can use them as human shields.
As part of Operation Olive Branch, which is being carried out meticulously and much more slowly than its projected pace to avoid any harm to civilians in Afrin, no civilians have been hurt so far. Zero harm to civilians is the primary concern in the encircled city center. Europe needs to see this fact. If the purpose is to ensure the security of Syrians, Turkey is already doing that.
Although the entire world knows the fact that terror groups like the PKK, YPG, PYD and Daesh and the Syrian dictator Bashar Assad are the true murderers who kill civilians, the EU and NATO still do not support Turkey in its counterterror fight in Afrin.
How can they expect to convince people to believe in their opinions about the counterterror fight with such hypocrisy? If the EU and NATO really care about the civilians in Afrin, then they need to side with Turkey. And that is only possible through preventing misinformation and PKK propaganda in Europe. Unfortunately, we cannot see any steps being taken to that end.