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Ankara determined to block PYD activities in Syria

DAILY SABAH
ISTANBUL
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The Turkish military asserted that it has been carrying out operations in Syria to prevent the PKK's Syrian affiliate, the Democratic Union Party's (PYD) armed wing the People's Protection Units (YPG), from attacking east of Afrin and west of Manbij.

In a written statement, the military declared that troops are adamant in fighting the YPG and the PKK both at home and abroad. "[The military] will continue its struggle with all terrorist organizations with tenacity and determination," it said.

Recently there have been reports on social media that the military has been hitting YPG targets around Azaz. Also, reports said Turkish warplanes struck PKK camps near PYD-held Afrin.

Abdullah Ağar, a retired military officer and security specialist, said Ankara has done whatever is necessary in Syria with Operation Euphrates Shield to prevent the PKK-affiliate from connecting its cantons.

"An incident took place that was out of our control. The PYD marched to Manbij from al-Bab's south, which is under regime control. So the cantons were connected through the Assad regime," he said, adding that the regime should not let the PYD triumph if it wants to retain its unified structure.

The security specialist asserted that Turkey will continue its activities in Syria to further keep the PYD's activities under control in Syria. However, he stressed that other actors' plans including that of the YPG leads to difficulties for Ankara.

Defense Minister Fikri Işık commented on the issue on Friday, saying that an operation to liberate Daesh's so-called capital Raqqa that would include the PYD would stall the offensive. "We hope that PYD elements that are terrorists will not be used in the Raqqa operation," he said, adding that it would steer the region into further instability.

In the meantime, 45 terrorists have been killed and thousands of people were detained at Turkey's borders over the course of the last week, the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) announced in a statement.

According to the written statement released by the military, the 45 terrorists were killed in operations carried out in the provinces of Şırnak, Hakkari, Diyarbakır, Batman, Mardin and Bitlis.

It added that 34 handmade explosives were destroyed and eight shelters and caves used by PKK terrorists were discovered during the operations. The military said five soldiers were killed and five others were wounded in clashes with the PKK. It added that a heavy blow was dealt to PKK terrorists that were preparing terrorist attacks.

Stressing that the terrorist group received heavy damage along its borders, the military said that around 3,000 people were captured with drugs and contraband that included tobacco.

The military also said 121 PKK terrorists have been killed so far in Hakkari province since the beginning of 2017.

Meanwhile, two soldiers were killed and two others wounded in clashes with PKK terrorists early on Friday, according to the military.

Informing the public about the ongoing activities in Syria, the TSK said the military-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA) has taken control of a 2,015-square-kilometer area in Syria.

It added that the military is still working on clearing al-Bab, Qabbasin and Bzaah of explosives and landmines.

On Aug. 24, the TSK, in cooperation with the FSA, launched Operation Euphrates Shield in northern Syria to secure its border from Daesh terrorists. Having cleared the northern Syrian town of Jarablus from Daesh in less than a day, the FSA went on to connect the Azaz-Jarablus line along the Turkish border to ensure full security for Ankara. Following the liberation of Jarablus and the completion of the Azaz-Jarablus line, the FSA marched toward Dabiq, an important Daesh-held town south of al-Rai, and then liberated al-Bab in March.

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