By Said Ibicioglu, Omer Koparan and Levent Tok
AFRIN, Syria (AA) - Turkish army and Free Syrian Army (FSA) forces on Sunday captured Mt. Bursaya in Afrin, Syria, denying the terrorist PYD/PKK a strategic peak it has used to launch attacks on civilians in both Turkey and Syria.
The capture came after Turkish forces and FSA fighters under the Turkish-led Operation Olive Branch advanced on the peak from the northwestern Syrian city of Azaz.
Airstrikes followed as PYD/PKK towers and positions on the mountain took heavy artillery fire from Turkish forces.
The terrorist PYD/PKK has used Mt. Bursaya to target civilians in the center of Turkey’s Kilis province and Syria’s Azaz district through mortar shells, artillery, and missiles.
On Wednesday two civilians were killed by a PYD/PKK attack on a mosque in Kilis, and on Saturday at least three civilians, including a child, were injured by PYD/PKK terrorist attacks on Kilis and Hatay.
Eliminating terrorists from Mt. Bursaya should help Turkey reduce the terror threat at its border and protect civilians in Syria.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told a public rally earlier on Sunday that commanders in the field said the mountain’s capture was imminent.
Turkey launched Operation Olive Branch on Jan. 20 to rid Afrin, northwestern Syria of PYD/PKK and Daesh terrorists.
According to the Turkish General Staff, the operation aims to establish security and stability along Turkey’s borders and the region as well as 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.
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 a fight.