By Sarp Ozer
ANKARA (AA) - A total of 72 Turkish jets participated in destroying terror targets in Syria’s Afrin as part of Operation Olive Branch on Saturday, a move that also commemorated the 72 martyrs from the recently-concluded Operation Euphrates Shield.
The Turkish army -- a formidable force closely watched by other armies around the world – has now cleared traitors from within its ranks after the July 15, 2016, defeated coup and is now engaged in effective operations since 2017.
- Operation Euphrates Shield
Turkish military’s Operation Euphrates Shield in Syria was launched on Aug. 24, 2016, when artillery and airstrikes were followed by Turkish tanks crossing the border to target Daesh and the PYD/PKK in support of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) fighters.
The operation was in line with the country’s right to self-defense borne out of international treaties and a mandate given to the army by the Turkish parliament in 2014.
Operations by the Turkish army had significantly contributed to ongoing efforts of international coalition against the terror group.
The operation, which lasted 218 days from land and air, was successfully completed on March 29, 2017.
Under the operation, approximately 2,000 square kilometers (772 square miles) of territory freed from terrorists and transformed into safe zone for residents.
- Huge success in counterterrorism
Turkish security forces achieved significant success in counterterrorism operations across Turkey in 2017.
The military “neutralized” 7,016 terrorists -- 3,239 PKK/KCK and 3,777 Daesh -- in 2017, destroying 1,958 shelters, caves and depots used by terrorists.
The KCK is the transnational political umbrella of the PKK/PYD terrorist group.
Turkish authorities often use the word "neutralized" in their statements to imply that the terrorists in question either surrendered or were killed or held.
- Operation Olive Branch
Turkey launched Operation Olive Branch on Saturday to clear PYD/PKK and Daesh terrorists from Afrin, northwestern Syria.
According to the military, the operation aims to establish security and stability along Turkish borders and the region as well as protect Syrians from terrorist oppression and cruelty.
The operation is being carried out under the framework of Turkey's rights based on international law, UN Security Council resolutions, its self-defense rights under the UN charter, and respect for Syria's territorial integrity, it said.
The military has also said it is putting "utmost importance" on not harming any civilians.
- 72 jets for 72 martyrs
A total of 72 Turkish jets took off and destroyed the terror targets in Afrin to commemorate 72 personnel martyred in terrorist attacks during the Operation Euphrates Shield.
A total of 108 targets, which were used as shelters, hideouts and ammunition depots by terrorist organizations PKK/KCK/PYD-YPG and Daesh in seven areas, were destroyed by air forces in Afrin.
Successful air campaign proved the pilots who joined the Turkish Air Forces after the July 2016 defeated coup had been able to successfully carry out their jobs.
FETO and its U.S.-based leader Fetullah Gulen orchestrated the defeated coup on July 15, 2016, which left 250 people martyred and nearly 2,200 injured.