KILIS, Turkey/AFRIN, Syria (AA) - Civilians began returning to a village in northern Syria’s Afrin region which the Turkish army liberated during an ongoing operation, Anadolu Agency reporters on the field said Tuesday.
Turkey on Saturday launched Operation Olive Branch to remove the PYD/PKK and Daesh terrorists from Afrin.
According to an Anadolu Agency correspondent on the field on Sunday, Turkish army, backed by the Free Syrian Army (FSA), liberated Afrin’s Shankal, Qorne, Bali, Adah Manli villages and Kita, Kordo and Bibno rural areas along with four other hills and created safe zones.
Shankal, where civilians have begun returning, lies at a strategic location as PYD/PKK terrorists had been using it to sneak into the Amanos Mountains in Turkey.
In FSA-secured villages the group is on duty 24 hours to protect villagers and property left behind by families who had fled violence.
It was reported that civilians from other villages were also migrating to FSA-secured villages.
According to an Anadolu Agency correspondent on the field, Ayse Mahmud, a mother with her five children returned to the village on a tractor, waving a white victory flag.
Speaking to Anadolu Agency, the 55-year-old, said the PYD/PKK wanted to recruit her children forcibly. Three of her sons and her husband have been taken hostage after they refused to join the group.
“I do not know what happened to my sons and husband. I hope I will reunite with them some day. I can only pray,” she said.
“We tried to live in other villages. But it is not easy to live in a foreign land. When we heard our village had been liberated we returned.”
She added for her Arabs, Kurds and Turks were all equal.
“When we were coming home we were scared, but what we saw touched us,” she said.
“God bless Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the FSA.”
According to Turkish General Staff, the operation aims to establish security and stability along Turkish borders and the region as well as to protect the Syrian people from the oppression and cruelty of terrorists.
The operation is being carried out under the framework of Turkey’s rights based on international law, UN Security Council’s decisions, self-defense rights under the UN charter and respect for Syria's territorial integrity, it said.
The military has also said that only terrorist targets are being destroyed and "utmost importance" is being given to not harm any civilians.
Afrin has been a major hideout for the PYD/PKK since July 2012 when the Assad regime in Syria left the city to the terror group without putting up a fight.