By Muslum Etgu and Abdullah Dogan
KONYA/SANLIURFA, Turkey (AA) - Hundreds of Syrians on Tuesday applied for voluntary military service for an ongoing operation by Turkey in northwestern Syria.
Turkey on Saturday launched Operation Olive Branch to remove PYD/PKK and Daesh terrorists from Afrin.
Nearly 150 Syrians gathered in central Konya to express their support for the Turkish army.
Muhammed Taci, a university student from Damascus, said he was ready to fight for Turkey.
“We feel obliged to Turkey as it offered a safe haven to us,” he said.
“The Turkish Army is in Afrin to clear terrorists. We have come here to join the military operation, and if they accept us, we are ready to become martyrs," he said, adding several thousand Syrians in Konya had been waiting for a chance to join the Turkish army.
In southeastern Sanliurfa province, several Syrians gathered outside the Army Recruiting Office chanting slogans against PYD/PKK.
- Several demonstration held
“If Turkey had not opened its doors to us, we would have died,” a demonstrator said.
Similar demonstrations were held in Istanbul, capital Ankara, western Aydin and southern Osmaniye, Adana, Hatay and Kahramanmaras provinces.
In Adana, 50 Syrians came to the Army Recruiting Office to register themselves.
Yusuf Okkes from Syria’s Azaz district said he wanted to support the Turkish army to save his own country.
“I couldn’t remain silent while Turkish soldiers are fighting for us,” he added.
Mohammed Khalid Gati from Hasakah province of Syria recalled that PYD/PKK terrorists had set their village on fire.
“PKK wants to divide our homeland… Turkey helped us and now we are ready to fight for our own country.”
- 'Turkey helped us'
Another Syrian, Mustafa Abdo from Azaz said PYD/PKK terrorists had fired rockets at their village.
“We wanted to fight for our homeland at that time, but we didn’t have any weapons,” he said.
In southern Mersin province, Syrians gathered in front of an Army Recruiting Office raising Turkish flags.
“All Syrians, Kurds, Arabs and Turks support Turkey’s military operation,” said Rafi Ukla Raco, one of the demonstrators.
Some 200 Turkmen also applied to the Turkish Army.
“We would like to go wherever the Turkish army sends us to fight. We all support our soldiers,” Ahmet Arnavut, a Syrian Turkmen said.
According to Turkish General Staff, the operation aims to establish security and stability along Turkish borders and the region as well as to protect the Syrian people from the oppression and cruelty of terrorists.
The operation is being carried out under the framework of Turkey’s rights based on international law, UN Security Council’s decisions, self-defense rights under the UN charter and respect to Syria's territorial integrity, it said.
The military also said the "utmost importance" was being given to not harm any civilian.
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 putting up a fight.