By Omer Koparan, Esref Musa and Levent Tok
AFRIN, Syria (AA) - Turkish Armed Forces on Sunday took control of 11 PYD/PKK positions and created safe zones during Operation Olive Branch in Syria's northwestern Afrin region.
According to an Anadolu Agency correspondent on the field, Turkish army backed by the Free Syrian Army (FSA) captured Afrin’s Shankal, Qorne, Bali, Adah Manli villages and Kita, Kordo and Bibno rural areas along with four other hills.
In the first day of the ground operation, which started in the early hours of Sunday, Turkish army surrounded Afrin from northern, northwestern and western sides.
To address the people of Afrin, the FSA fighters released a video on the social media in which they can be heard saying: “You are our friends and family. We are here to end the persecution. [PYD/PKK] is our mutual enemy.”
The Turkish Army and the FSA have not encountered any resistance at first and the opposition forces caught some terrorists alive in a few villages of Afrin’s Rajo town.
Turkish jets and ground forces hit several positions of PYD/PKK in Afrin including Malikiyah in Tal Rifaat, east of Afrin.
The terrorist groups, meanwhile, continued targeting civilians and attacked Jibrin village in Azaz district, killing two civilians.
The FSA fighters in Azaz district were preparing for the operation.
The ground forces are expected to advance towards Afrin from different directions.
- Terrorist attacks continue
On Sunday, a Syrian national and about 50 people were injured in cross-border rocket attacks in southern Turkey, according to governor of Hatay.
Buildings and vehicles were damaged in the attack.
Turkey’s southeastern province of Kilis was also hit by four rockets launched from Afrin.
The rockets which were launched by PYD/PKK terrorist members in Afrin, hit four houses in central Kilis’ Ekrem Cetin and Baris neighborhoods.
Seven people, including two Syrian nationals, were injured in the attack.
The attack, which also damaged buildings and vehicles, was responded by Turkish artillery units stationed in the region.
Kilis was first hit by four rockets on early Sunday, which struck a neighborhood in city center and slightly injured one Turkish citizen.
The attacks came after Turkey launched Operation Olive Branch to remove PYD/PKK and Daesh terrorists from Afrin.
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 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, 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.