By Fatma Esma Arslan
ANKARA (AA) - As part of its continuing smear campaign against the Turkish-led counter-terrorism operation in northwestern Syria, supporters of the PYD/PKK terror group continue to post photos online misrepresented as showing Operation Olive Branch.
In fact, all such photos come from years ago and thousands of miles away.
A photo posted on Jan. 28 on a social media account shows soldiers lying by the roadside, claiming that these soldiers are Turkish soldiers “in front of the YPG” terrorist group. But in actuality, the photo was taken in November 2012 and shows Israeli soldiers in the city of Ashdod.
In another photo falsely labelled “Turkish Armed Forces are killing children in Afrin” actually shows children slain in a March 2014 Daesh attack.
In yet another example, a plane said to be a Turkish jet downed in Afrin by PYD/PKK terrorists is actually the photo of Russian plane crashed from October 2016.
Amid Anadolu Agency reporting on this misinformation campaign, some of the accounts posting such fake news and images have been shut down.
Turkish presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin has warned against misinformation being spread about Operation Olive Branch, saying: “We call on the public, especially the media, to guard against provocative news, images, and rumors which have false, sham, and distorted contents.”
On Jan. 20, Turkey launched the operation along with the Free Syrian Army (FSA) to clear PYD/PKK and Daesh terrorists from Afrin, northwestern Syria.
According to the Turkish General Staff, the operation aims to establish security and stability along Turkey’s borders and the region as well as to 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 also said only terror targets are being destroyed and that "utmost importance and sensitivity" is being put on avoiding harming civilians.
Afrin has been a major hideout for the PYD/PKK since July 2012, when the Bashar al-Assad regime in Syria left the city to the terror group without a fight.