By Ali Kemal Akan
ANKARA (AA) - Many anti-personnel landmines, which are banned by the Ottawa Treaty, have been found in areas liberated from terrorists during Turkish Armed Forces’ ongoing operation in Syria’s Afrin region.
On Jan. 20, Turkey launched Operation Olive Branch to clear PYD/PKK and Daesh terrorists from Afrin, northwestern Syria.
Since then, many different types of arms, ammunition, tools and materials have been seized.
Several anti-personnel landmines were also found in areas cleared of terrorists between Saturday and Monday.
The Ottawa Treaty, which outlaws anti-personnel mines, have been ratified or acceded by 163 countries, since it came into force in 1999.
The mines, which are hard to detect, pose a threat to civilians living in the region.
Anti-personnel landmines cause deaths or injuries to hundreds of innocent and defenseless civilians, especially children.
The mines also hinder the return of refugees and people, who are exposed to internal migration, to their homes.
During Operation Olive Branch, many shelters, hideouts and concrete sites, abandoned by PYD/PKK and Daesh terrorists, have also been seized.
The shelters were found under trees in order to prevent detection of their locations by unmanned aerial vehicles. The entrances of the shelters were also covered by nylon canvas for camouflage.
According to the Turkish General Staff, the Afrin operation aims to establish security and stability along Turkey’s borders and the region as well as to 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 also said only terror targets were being destroyed and "utmost care and sensitivity" were being used to not harm civilians.