By Yunus Keles
ERBIL, Iraq (AA) - Iraq's Turkmen community "completely supports" Turkey's Operation Olive Branch, which is currently underway in Syria's northern Afrin district, a member of the Iraqi Turkmen Front (ITF) said Tuesday.
"We are well aware that this operation targets terrorist organizations in Afrin and not local residents or our Kurdish brothers," Aydin Maruf, an ITF lawmaker in northern Iraq's Kurdish region, told Anadolu Agency.
"The armed groups currently based there [in Afrin] pose a serious threat to Turkey and the wider region," he said.
"Iraq's Turkmen -- as always -- stand with the Turkish Republic," he added. "We believe this operation will serve to restore peace, prosperity and brotherhood to the area."
According to Maruf, the same terrorist organizations also maintain a presence in Iraq, "from which they threaten to adversely affect the entire region".
The lawmaker went on to urge Turkey to launch a similar operation against the same terrorist groups in Iraq.
"The PYD/PKK terrorist group's presence in [the Iraqi district of] Sinjar disturbs all of the region's ethnic groups, he said.
"We believe therefore that it is important to launch another such operation in Sinjar," Maruf added, blaming the PYD/PKK for "driving a wedge" between Turkey and northern Iraq.
-Operation Olive Branch
On Saturday, Turkey launched Operation Olive Branch with the stated objective of clearing Syria’s northern Afrin district of PYD/PKK and Daesh terrorists.
According to the Turkish General Staff, the operation aims to secure the area -- which is located close to the Turkish border -- while also protecting its civilian population from locally-based terrorist elements.
Turkish military officials stress that the operation is being conducted in line with international law, UN Security Council resolutions, the right to self-defense (as enshrined in the UN’s founding charter) and with full respect for Syria's territorial integrity.
The utmost importance, say military officials, is also being given to the avoidance of civilian casualties.
The PYD/PKK is the Syrian offshoot of the PKK group, which has been designated as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the EU.
The PYD/PKK has enjoyed a significant presence in Afrin since July 2012, when Syria's Assad regime withdrew from the district without putting up a fight.