By Sarp Ozer
ANKARA (AA) - Turkey's Chief of General Staff Gen. Hulusi Akar is in southern Hatay province to inspect troops, which are taking part in ongoing Operation Olive Branch in Syria's Afrin.
According to a statement by Turkish General Staff, Akar was accompanied by Commander of the Turkish Land Forces Gen. Yasar Guler, Commander of the Turkish Navy Forces Adm. Adnan Ozbal and Turkish Air Forces Commander Gen, Hasan Kucukakyuz.
Akar also spoke to Iran’s military chief of staff Maj. Gen Mohammad Bagheri on the phone and exchanged views on cooperation against terrorist groups in Syria, according to a military official, who spoke on condition of anonymity due to restrictions on talking to the media.
Earlier, Turkish General Staff said in a statement that more than 150 targets of PKK/KCK/PYD-YPG and Daesh in Syria's Afrin had been destroyed at seven areas during airstrikes after the "Operation Olive Branch" was launched at 5 p.m. (GMT1400) on Saturday.
The operation was 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, the military added.
The military also said only terrorist targets were being destroyed and "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.
The Turkish cities of Kilis and Hatay across the Syrian border are within the firing range of the PYD/PKK group from Afrin, which sits atop a hill. The terror group has also used Amanos Mountains to penetrate from Syria into Turkey.
The PYD/PKK depends on Afrin to connect to the Mediterranean from northwestern Syria. The terrorist organization has also threatened the gains made from Operations Euphrates Shield and Idlib de-escalation zone over Afrin. A quarter of Syria land and 65 percent of Turkey-Syria border are currently under occupation of the terrorist organization.
Operation Euphrates Shield began in August 2016 and ended in late March 2017 to improve security, support coalition forces and eliminate the terror threat along the Turkish border.