By Abdullah Asiran
THE HAGUE (AA) - Turkey’s counter-terrorism operation in Syria’s northwestern Afrin is a continuation of the country's "40-year struggle" against terrorists, head of the Netherland's Denk party said on Thursday.
Speaking at a special session on Turkey’s Operation Olive Branch in the Dutch parliament, Tunahan Kuzu said Turkey has been fighting with “blood-thirsty terrorists” for 40 years.
“This operation is against terrorists which caused the deaths of tens of thousands of Turkish soldiers and civilians,” he said.
“These terrorists are bombing the cities, organizing attacks and kidnapping people in the villages… These cowards are not freedom fighters but members of a terrorist organization called the PYD.
"These are not resistance heroes but YPG terrorists. They are no different from each other. Their names are different, logos are different but they are cowards of the same blood-thirsty organization.”
The Denk (Think) Party -- formed in 2015 by ethnic Turkish lawmakers Tunahan Kuzu and Selcuk Ozturk after their expulsion from the Labor Party, whose integration policy they opposed -- attracted over 200,000 votes not just from expatriate Turks, but from people from various backgrounds opposing discrimination and racism.
On Jan. 20, Turkey launched Operation Olive Branch to remove PYD/PKK and Daesh terrorists from Afrin.
Since the beginning of the operation, 62 different strategic areas have been captured from the clutches of terrorists. They include a town center, 41 villages, three rural areas and 17 strategic mountains or hills.
According to the Turkish General Staff, Operation Olive Branch aims to establish security and stability along Turkey’s borders and the region as well as protect Syrians from 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 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 care” is being taken to avoid harming 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 a fight.