By Abdullah Dogan
KONYA, Turkey (AA) - Iraqi Turkmen in Iraq’s northern city of Kirkuk have voiced their readiness to take part in Turkey’s ongoing Operation Olive Branch, which seeks to eliminate the terrorist presence in and around northern Syria’s Afrin district.
“Turkmen want to show their support by playing an active role in the operation as needed,” Aydin Beyatli, chairman of the Istanbul-based Federation of Turkmeneli Associations, told Anadolu Agency on Friday.
Last Saturday, Turkey, in cooperation with the Free Syrian Army, launched Operation Olive Branch with the aim of eliminating the PYD/PKK and Daesh terrorist presence in Syria’s northern Afrin district near the Turkish border.
According to Turkey’s Military General Staff, the campaign is primarily aimed at purging the border area of terrorist elements and protecting the district’s civilian population.
“Two hundred armed Turkmen in Kirkuk are ready to join the operation,” Beyatli said, adding that a number of Turkmen living in Turkey had also requested to participate in the campaign.
A doctor himself, Beyatli said many Turkmen doctors were prepared to offer their services to Turkish troops in the field.
According to Beyatli, Operation Olive Branch had “given hope” not only to the region’s Turkmen, but also to local Arab, Kurd, Sunni and Shia communities, all of whom he said had been subject to abuse at the hands of the terrorists.
Turkish military officials say the operation is being conducted on the basis of international law; past UN Security Council resolutions; the right to self-defense as enshrined by the UN charter; and respect for Syria's unity and territorial integrity.
Military officials also stress that they are attaching the "utmost importance" to the avoidance of civilian casualties.
The PYD/PKK has enjoyed a significant presence in the Afrin district since mid-2012, when Syrian regime forces withdrew from the area without a fight.