By Omer Koparan and Zuhal Demirci
ANKARA (AA) - A Turkish aid agency on Saturday said they will set up new camp cities for migrating Syrians amid Turkey’s ongoing counter-terrorist military operation in Syria’s Afrin region.
“We predict that the migration will initially be towards Azez, the area of Operation Euphrates Shield,” said Mehmet Gulluoglu, the head of Turkey's Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD), referring to a Turkish-led operation in Syria that ended last March.
“We’ve identified three to four spots depending on the number [of migrants]. All the spots have different capacities,” he said on a visit to Azez.
Gulluoglu said that preparations for possible migration had begun before the current Operation Olive Branch began, stressing that they hope the operation’s impact on civilians will be minimal.
Ibrahim Altan, head of the Turkish Red Crescent Society, said they hope life in Afrin gets back to normal and that they can help health and education services “get back on their feet as soon as possible."
Altan said that they have to initially provide shelter, food, and other aid to possible migrants, and that their preparations are ready.
Turkey on Jan. 20 launched Operation Olive Branch to clear PYD/PKK and Daesh terrorists from Afrin, northwestern Syria.
According to the military, the operation aims to establish security and stability along Turkish 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.
The military has also said that only terrorist targets are being destroyed and "utmost importance" is being put on not harming any civilians.
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.