By Erdal Turkoglu
HATAY, Turkey (AA) - Turkish Armed Forces are using locally-made vehicles, weapons, and ammunition, including howitzers and drones, in Turkey's ongoing Operation Olive Branch in Afrin.
The operation is being carried out alongside the Free Syrian Army on the ground. Locations, warehouses and shelters belonging to the terrorists are being hit non-stop from the air and land.
A noteworthy fact about the operation, which is being carried out with determination by the Turkish military, is that the vast majority of weapons, ammunition and vehicles used have been made in Turkey.
T-155 Firtina (Storm), a locally-produced self-propelled howitzer is among such weapons that can shoot targets within the range of 40 kilometers (24.8 miles); it has been shipped to many bases in Hatay and Kilis provinces bordering Syria as part of the operation.
Another weapon placed on the border is the T-122 Multiple Barrel Rocket Launcher (MRBL), which can be used day or night in all weather conditions. The T-122 MRBL provides effective fire support to military units moving forward in rural parts of Afrin.
Also, the T-129 ATAK helicopters, with its guided air-to-ground CIRIT rockets -- also Turkish-made -- are being used to hit numerous terrorist targets that have been meticulously laser-marked beforehand by the ground forces.
KIRPI, a mine-resistant ambush protected vehicle, is on duty for transporting land troops across the border in Afrin, while the AKINCI armored combat vehicle (ACV), is kept on standby as part of the quick reaction team; AKINCI vehicles have their own sniper tower.
For the first time, drones equipped with newly-developed technologies are also being utilized in the operation in Afrin. Terrorists are tracked step-by-step through the drones and are then ‘neutralized’ by aircraft or artillery units.
A land-based transportable radar electronic attack system, KORAL, also plays an important role. Developed by Turkey's leading defense company Aselsan, KORAL is capable of intercepting, jamming, and deceiving radar systems.
The operation is also making use of a number of Turkish-made thermal cameras, radars, weapons and ammunition.
Turkey on Saturday launched Operation Olive Branch to remove PYD/PKK and Daesh terrorists from Afrin. 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, stated the Turkish General Staff.
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 for Syria's territorial integrity, it said.
The military has also said that only terrorist targets are being destroyed and "utmost importance" is being given to not harm 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.