Authorities announced yesterday that two members of the terrorist group the People's Protection Units (YPG) were captured in Syria over the killing of two Turkish soldiers and brought to Turkey. With the latest arrests, the number of suspects captured in connection with the killings rose to 11. Earlier this month, nine YPG members were brought to Hatay, a Turkish province bordering Syria, and were remanded in custody, after an operation by the National Intelligence Directorate (MİT). A court in Hatay ordered the arrest of the two suspects identified with their initials as R.B.A. and R.H.M.
The terrorists are responsible for killing Lt. Oğuz Kaan Usta and Sgt. Mehmet Muratdağı on Jan. 23, 2018 in the Rajo area of Afrin during Turkey's Operation Olive Branch. After killing him, the suspects took the lieutenant's body, which was recovered 58 days later. They were caught in a joint operation by the MİT and Turkish gendarmerie forces in Afrin. The suspects were identified with the aid of a PKK member who collaborated with authorities after his arrest on Sept. 3 in Rajo. The suspects, R.B.A. and R.H.M. were also captured in Rajo, media outlets reported.
The YPG is the Syrian affiliate of the PKK terror group, which has waged a campaign of violence against Turkey for more than 30 years. The group is responsible for the killings of tens of thousands of people since the 1980s. The U.S., the EU, and Turkey list the PKK as a terrorist group. Ankara has criticized U.S. arms support of the YPG, carried out under the pretext of fighting Daesh.
Operation Olive Branch was launched by Turkey on Jan. 20 to remove the YPG and Daesh terrorists from Afrin in northwestern Syria. Afrin had been a major hideout for the YPG since July 2012 when the forces of the Bashar Assad regime in Syria left the city to the terror group without putting up a fight.