Like they did in northwestern Syria's Afrin last year alongside the Turkish military, commanders of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) said that they are ready to save people that reside east of the Euphrates River from the PKK terrorist group's affiliate People's Protection Units (YPG) and their oppressive rule.
Speaking at the first anniversary of Operation Olive Branch, the FSA's second corps commander, Mumtaz Mahmoud, told İhlas News Agency (İHA) that locals of Afrin who had fled due to the YPG's policies which included excessive taxes and the forced recruitment of children, started to return to their homes after the city was liberated in a joint operation by Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) and the FSA last year.
"The city has a cozy daily life now. Closed stores have been reopened, and life has returned to normal," Mahmoud said.
Afrin had been a major hideout for the YPG since July 2012, when the Bashar Assad regime in Syria left the city to the terror group without a fight. However, local people have been suffering from atrocities and oppression at the hands of the terrorist organization. With the objective to establish security and stability along Turkey's borders and protect Syrians from oppression, Turkey launched Operation Olive Branch on Jan. 20, 2018, to remove the YPG's forces from Afrin. The Turkish military and FSA entered the Afrin town center and liberated it from terrorists on March 18, 2018. Mahmoud added that it is vital to carry out a similar military offensive east of the Euphrates to save the persecuted Arab, Kurdish and Turkmen population in the region.
Turkey has been signaling to embark on a new operation in the Euphrates to eliminate PKK-affiliated terrorists.
Speaking on the developments in Afrin following the operation, first corps commander of the FSA, Muataz Raslan, stressed that hospitals have been reactivated and caring for the locals free of charge, and students returned to schools to continue their education.
"Damaged schools were repaired. Locals are freely continuing their daily life now," Raslan said.
With the help of Ankara's reconstruction efforts, the city has undergone a great transformation in the fields of security, education, health, and economy following the military operation, enabling the return of more than 200,000 Syrian refugees back to their homes, since the Turkish military and the FSA eliminated the YPG from the city.
Abu Ahmed Nour, the commander of third corps of the FSA, said that the main target of the Syrian revolution was to rescue people from the oppression of terrorist groups and its extensions, adding that the factions of the FSA have a strong coordination to liberate all of Syria from terrorist rule.