By Soner Kilinc
AFRIN, Turkey (AA) - The PYD/PKK terrorists used civilians, including children to attack Turkish soldiers, 11 of whom were martyred on Saturday, during the ongoing operation in Syria’s Afrin, a security source said Sunday.
The PYD/PKK terrorists have been using civilians to carry out attacks from time to time, the source told Anadolu Agency on condition of anonymity due to security concerns.
On Saturday, 11 Turkish soldiers, including two pilots were martyred in northwestern Afrin during Operation Olive Branch.
About the attack, the source said a Turkish commando team were on a hill at an altitude of 1,027 meters near a village when a civilian group of 70-80 people approached their location at noon.
The team at first fired warning shots to stop the civilians from coming nearer.
But after the group ignored the warning shots, the Turkish team comprising 16 commandos moved to halt the group. It was then that hand grenades were thrown at the commando team from among the civilians, the source said.
Also, PYD/PKK terrorists hiding in the village launched an attack with rockets on the commando team, nine of whom were martyred while a Turkish helicopter, which was sent to respond to the attack crashed, resulting in the martyrdom of two pilots.
On Saturday, Turkish General Staff said an ATAK helicopter crashed at around 1 p.m. (1000GMT) during ongoing operation in Afrin.
During his address at ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party's provincial meeting in Istanbul on Syria, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan spoke about the helicopter that went down during the operation.
"A while ago, one helicopter was shot down. Of course, all these things will happen. We are in a war...We will of course make them [terrorists] pay a heavy price for these," he said.
The source said the civilians made a run for a nearby village after the clashes between the Turkish soldiers and terrorists.
Around 40 PYD/PKK terrorists were neutralized by more commandos who arrived at the scene while the other terrorists fled, the source added.
A few hours later, the region was completely cleared of terrorists, including the area where civilians were used as "human shields" to carry out such kind of attacks, it said.
At least 1,266 PYD/PKK and Daesh terrorists have been "neutralized" since the beginning of Operation Olive Branch in Syria's Afrin, according to Turkish General Staff on Sunday.
On Jan. 20, Turkey launched Operation Olive Branch to clear PYD/PKK and Daesh terrorists from Afrin, northwestern Syria.
Turkish authorities often use the word "neutralized" in their statements to imply that the terrorists in question either surrendered or were killed or captured.
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 the "utmost care" is being taken to avoid harming civilians.