Turkish military hits terrorist YPG targets in Syria's Afrin

emAA Photo/em
AA Photo

The Turkish military shelled 153 targets of the terrorist organization in Afrin, while ground units have started crossing the border from Turkey's Kilis to Syria's Afrin as part of Operation Olive Branch, reports said Sunday.

The Turkish army fired artillery rounds throughout the night, targeting the terror nests of the PKK's Syrian offshoot People's Protection Units (YPG) in Afrin.

The military said Sunday that some 153 terrorist PKK-linked YPG targets have been shelled in the operation.

Reporting on the operation later Sunday, the Turkish Armed Forces said 32 of its fighter jets hit 45 terrorist targets in Afrin, adding that the operation continued as planned.

Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım said that Turkish ground units have entered Afrin as of 11:05 a.m. Sunday.

On Saturday, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced that a ground operation in Syria's Afrin had been launched.

Military vehicles and commandos were earlier sent to reinforce troops stationed at Reyhanlı, Kırıkhan and Hassa districts of Hatay province.
Artillery rounds from villages of southern Turkey's Kilis and Hatay provinces were also fired.

Turkish security forces also used howitzers during Saturday night on PYD/PKK targets in Afrin from Hatay.

Turkey launched "Operation Olive Branch" on Saturday at 5 p.m.(1400GMT) in Syria's northwestern Afrin region; the aim of the operation is to establish security and stability along Turkish borders and the region as well as to eliminate PKK-linked and Daesh terror groups, and protect the Syrian people from the oppression and cruelty of terrorists.

The operation is being conducted under the framework of Turkey's rights based on international law, U.N. Security Council's decisions, especially no. 1624 (2005), 2170 (2014) and 2178 (2014) and as per the self-defense right under 51st item of the U.N. charter, while being respectful of Syria's territorial integrity.

Across the country on Sunday, people gathered at 90,000 mosques and prayed for Turkey's success in "Operation Olive Branch" in Afrin.

Turkey has long protested the U.S. support for the Democratic Union Party (PYD) -- the Syrian offshoot of the terrorist PKK -- and its military wing the People's Protection Units (YPG).

Washington has called the terrorist group a "reliable ally" in its fight against Daesh in Syria even though its mother organization, the PKK, is listed as a terrorist group by Turkey, the U.S., and the EU, having waged a terror campaign against Turkey for more than 30 years, killing nearly 40,000 people.

Afrin has been a major hideout for the YPG since July 2012 when the Assad regime in Syria left the city to the terror group without putting up a fight.

The Turkish cities of Kilis and Hatay across the Syrian border are within the firing range of the PYD/PKK group from Afrin, which sits atop a hill. The terror group has also used Amanos Mountains to penetrate from Syria into Turkey.

The YPG depends on Afrin to connect to the Mediterranean from northwestern Syria. The terrorist organization also threatens Idlib deescalation zone over Afrin. A quarter of Syria land and 65 percent of Turkey-Syria border is under the occupation of the terrorist organization.

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