The Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) continued efforts to prevent attempts by the PKK-affiliated People’s Protection Units (YPG) to attack civilian areas to destabilize the northern Syrian territories recently liberated in Operation Peace Spring.
Recently, handmade explosives placed under a bridge used for civilian purposes between Ras al-Ayn and Tal Halaf were disabled by the Turkish army.
“Turkish SAS (The Underwater Defense) teams identified IED traps consisting of six anti-tank mines planted by YPG terrorists on the bridge over the Habur River between Ras al-Ayn and Tal Halaf. Turkish SAS teams disabled the contrivance after closing the bridge to traffic,” the National Defense Ministry announced yesterday on Twitter.
This is not the first time that the YPG has made it to headlines in relation to explosives as terrorists have already carried out numerous attacks with bomb-laden vehicles in civilian areas since Operation Peace Spring successfully cleared militants from the region.
On Nov. 10, a car-bomb attack by the terrorist group took place in Tal Abyad, killing nine and injuring 30 others. The bombing in Tal Abyad's Suluk town, which is one of the largest settlement areas in the region, caused massive harm to civilians and damaged buildings.
Tal Abyad was cleared of terrorists as part of Operation Peace Spring on Oct. 13. Since then, locals have gradually returned with humanitarian aid being provided with the help of the TSK and the Turkish Red Crescent (Kızılay).
The Defense Ministry also announced on Nov. 10 that 331 mines and 891 homemade explosives that were planted by the YPG have been neutralized. According to the ministry, the mines and explosives were placed in civilian settlements and strategic infrastructure points, adding that there are still thousands of them, despite the Turkish military's clearing efforts. Another attack also took place in northwestern Syria’s Afrin on Oct. 31, which was liberated by Operation Olive Branch, killing eight civilians and injuring 14 others.
The terrorist organization also continues harassment fire toward the Turkish military and Free Syrian Army (FSA) fighters despite Ankara’s agreement with Washington and Moscow on the YPG’s withdrawal. Since Oct. 17, 96 instances of harassment fire by the YPG have been recorded, in which six Turkish soldiers and 138 FSA fighter have been killed. Also, YPG terrorists allegedly wear civilian dress and attack Turkish armored cars in the region.
Turkey launched Operation Peace Spring, the third in a series of cross-border anti-terror operations in northern Syria targeting terrorists affiliated with Daesh and the YPG, on Oct. 9.
The operation, conducted in line with the country's right to self-defense borne out of international law and U.N. Security Council resolutions, aims to establish a terror-free safe zone for Syrians' return in the area east of the Euphrates River controlled by the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which is dominated by YPG terrorists.
The PKK, listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the European Union, has waged a terror campaign against Turkey for more than 30 years, resulting in the deaths of nearly 40,000 people, including women, children and infants.
Turkey has long decried the threat from terrorists east of the Euphrates in northern Syria, pledging military action to prevent the formation of a "terrorist corridor" there.